State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R, C, I – Schenectady) and several Senate colleagues who represent the Mohawk Valley and Niagara County have introduced legislation that would create a state disaster recovery fund.
The bill (S.5987) would create a supplemental fund to provide individual assistance, public assistance and hazard mitigation after a natural or man-made disaster. Aid would be available for a variety of disaster-related expenses, including home repairs and medical expenses for individuals. Municipalities would be eligible to receive funds for such items as public services expenses and debris removal. Infrastructure grants would be available to public schools.
Upon a disaster being declared, the bill would also require the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to establish a field office at the disaster site and provide relief workers. The agency would also create a disaster recovery center and a toll-free phone number to help those affected apply for assistance.
In all instances, grant applicants would receive funds within one month. Loan applicants would receive aid within two months. To ensure the maximum number of people are helped, aid and loans would not be offered to anyone provided money by their insurance company or the federal government.
This bill is the centerpiece of a six-point legislative plan championed by state senators in response to massive flooding last June. The Mohawk Valley and Niagara County sustained an estimated $87 million in flood damage between June 26 and July 3, the height of the storm and its devastating aftermath.
Senator Farley said, “I am pleased to join my Senate colleagues in sponsoring this important bill. I have always been impressed by the way that individuals and organizations quickly pull together and work hard to recover from natural disasters, but they need assistance from the government as well. This bill will ensure that New York State is ready and able to provide the financial assistance that is so crucial to help these communities recover.”