Nassau to get $888M, Suffolk $282M in fed Sandy aid

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo presents his 2013-14 New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo presents his 2013-14 Executive Budget proposal in Albany, N.Y. (Jan. 22, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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The state will pump at least $888 million into Nassau and more than $282 million into Suffolk in federal funds under a wide-ranging recovery plan aimed largely at solving the housing crisis created by superstorm Sandy.

The blueprint unveiled by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Tuesday, for the initial $1.71 billion in funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, seeks to offer homeowners buyouts to relocate from coastal areas, millions of dollars for them to harden their homes to protect against future storms, and an infusion of cash to aid businesses and help rebuild infrastructure in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

For housing recovery alone, Nassau will receive $511 million and Suffolk $147 million in the initial allocation of money through HUD community development block grants.

The state of New York Action Plan for Disaster Recovery quantifies damage and apportions funds based on a calculation of "unmet needs" of homeowners, businesses and infrastructure. New York City is submitting its own plan to HUD for a separate $1.77 billion in disaster recovery funds.

The state's plan, which must be approved by the federal agency within 45 days, says 10,000 homes statewide suffered "substantial damage" from Sandy -- equivalent to 50 percent or more of their pre-storm market value and the trigger for access to federal money for mitigation steps against future flooding.

The plan provides insights into the general direction and priorities the Cuomo administration wants to pursue post-Sandy, for everything from home elevations, buyouts or relocations to hardening utilities against future storms, to local road-raising. It calls for using:

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$415 million in assistance to help businesses repair or replace lost or damaged inventory and equipment, fix damaged facilities and cover working capital needs;

$259 million in grants for homeowners to better protect their homes from future storms;

$233 million for a program to help homeowners affected by Sandy and the 2011 tropical storms Irene and Lee whose repair costs exceed funding from other sources;

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$171 million for buyout offers to owners of badly damaged homes within the 500-year floodplain or to those located within designated buyout areas considered at risk of repeat flooding;

$124 million for multifamily housing measures, including $31 million for repairs and rehabilitation for 3-7-unit properties to make them meet greener standards and more energy-efficient;

In Rockland, 663 owner-occupied homes and 91 renters' properties were damaged, the plan said.

The plan likely will be revised several times before it is finalized, in conjunction with county and municipal officials, according to those experienced in administering such plans after federally declared disasters elsewhere in the country. In a statement issued by Cuomo's office, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said: "These federal funds are critical in helping our residents recover from the damage of Hurricane Sandy. With these programs, we will help meet the immediate needs of homeowners, assist businesses in recovery so that our economy can continue to grow, and begin to build back our communities stronger. I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership and commitment to helping Nassau residents recover."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said: "Suffolk County looks forward to working with New York State to administer CDBG funds to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Rebuilding is a priority for our residents, and we applaud Governor Cuomo for creating vital programs to address the needs of Suffolk County residents."

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With Joe Ryan

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