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Federal Sandy aid to NY tops $2 billion

Flooding on Long Island caused by superstorm Sandy.

Flooding on Long Island caused by superstorm Sandy. (Oct. 31, 2012) Credit: Ed Betz

The amount of post-Sandy federal assistance approved for New Yorkers -- grants, low-interest loans and claims filed against the National Flood Insurance Program -- now tops $2 billion, federal officials said Friday.

Statewide, 55,700 policyholders have filed claims with the federally funded insurance program and about $815 million has been paid out to date.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has shelled out $814 million so far to individual households for housing aid, which covers rental assistance, home repairs and other needs, such as replacing personal property lost during Sandy. That money, which doesn't have to be repaid, goes to the uninsured and the underinsured; maxing out at $31,900 per household.

Also, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more than $322 million in low-interest disaster loans, with more than $298 million going to New York homeowners.

FEMA has also provided more than $315 million in public-assistance grants -- helping municipalities cover the cost of cleanups, emergency measures and repair or replacement of essential facilities.

"We're still here," Michael Byrne, the top official in New York, said at a news conference Friday at the Long Beach Disaster Recovery Center. "FEMA will be here as long as it takes to provide its programs."

Sixty days after Sandy devastated Long Island -- and other parts of New York and New Jersey -- about 2,200 New York households were still being accommodated in hotels and motels because their homes remain uninhabitable.

Officials urged people whose property was damaged to register before the Jan. 28 deadline.

"Even if you're not sure if you qualify, you're not going to know what you're eligible for until you register -- that's vital," spokesman Don Caetano said. People can do so by calling FEMA at 800-621-3362 or visiting one of nine Long Island disaster recovery centers.

FEMA officials said more than 258,000 households statewide have contacted the agency for help or information. Officials said people who continue to need rental assistance should renew their applications.

On Long Island, 36,400 households in Nassau have been approved for about $265 million in housing aid.

In Nassau, 1,489 low-interest home loans totaling $114.3 million have been approved, with another 61 low-interest loans worth $5.8 million approved for businesses. In Suffolk, 22 business loans totaling $2.4 million and 577 home loans for $46.1 million have been approved.

Nassau ranks as the most severely impacted region in the state, according to federal fund allocations made to individual property owners.

To date, Bronx residents have received $2.2 million in housing aid, Brooklyn has received $177 million, Manhattan $12 million, Queens $208 million, Staten Island $83 million, Rockland $2.5 million and Westchester $1.2 million.

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