Long Island businesses damaged by superstorm Sandy have been promised about $1.3 million in recovery grants from National Grid, the utility said Wednesday.
The National Grid Hurricane Sandy Relief Program is awarding Long Island businesses in hard-hit South Shore communities grants averaging between $25,000 and $50,000, the company said.
As the state awaits federal approval for its plan to provide more than $280 million of federal recovery money to companies in the form of grants, business owners said National Grid's program is the only widely available resource at the moment for non-loan financial aid. Federal aid is mostly available in the form of Small Business Administration disaster loans.
For businesses, "there's a very large financial gap between . . . costs to repair damages and the assistance they have from insurance," said John Keating, Long Island manager for the Relief Program.
The company has budgeted $10 million in grants for severely affected areas in Long Island, the Rockaways, Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Reed Fedner, who co-owns Tutor Time, an East Rockaway day-care facility, was approved for $50,000 from National Grid. To avoid taking on debt, he spent about $300,000 out of pocket to renovate his leased facility, which was destroyed by floodwaters, and to buy new equipment. He reopened Jan. 7.
"I thought I was going to get $500 or $1,000," Fedner said. "I felt like I just won the lottery."
National Grid, based in London, provides natural gas to the Island and contracts with the Long Island Power Authority to run its utility operations. Next year PSE&G of Newark will run the LIgrid.
Among the requirements to be eligible, applicants must be National Grid commercial, industrial or multifamily residential gas customers, and be seeking assistance for a building that sustained physical damage and lost natural gas service due to the storm and flooding. Funds can be used to rebuild a facility, replace or fix equipment and replace inventory or furnishings. Applicants receive the funding only after expenses have been paid and verified.
Ivan Sayles, who owns Rachel's Waterside Grill in Freeport, said he was approved for a $50,000 National Grid grant. He filed for an SBA disaster loan in December but is still waiting for approval. He lost $57,000 in kitchen equipment and $13,000 worth of spoiled food. Flood insurance will help pay for some structural damages, which he estimated at more than $200,000, but not the pricey ovens, stove hood, refrigerators and freezers, and the new fire alarm system upgraded to current codes.
Businesses seeking grants up to $250,000 from the National Grid Hurricane Sandy Relief Program must:
Be a National Grid customer
Be applying for a building that was damaged or lost natural gas service
Show financial need and all funding sources
Grants for replacing inventory and furnishings are available to small business customers employing less than 100 people.
Other conditions are required; to apply, call 855-496-9359.
Source: National Grid