An assemblyman who asked Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to declare Sag Harbor Village a disaster area to allow businesses affected by a Dec. 16 fire on Main Street to qualify for federal low-interest loans said the focus of the request is shifting to “economic injury” compensation.
Assemb. Fred W. Thiele Jr. (I–Sag Harbor) said in an interview Monday that although the 12-alarm blaze involved fire, smoke and water damage to five buildings, seven businesses and four apartments, there were about 50 businesses that were actually affected once the closing of streets and loss of parking due to the fire were taken into account.
Thiele said the most badly damaged businesses have substantial insurance to cover repairs, but that those and none of the other businesses have insurance for lost sales. He noted the blaze happened at the height of the holiday shopping season.
“We still want a disaster declaration; it’s just the remedy has changed,” Thiele said, referring to himself and Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who on Dec. 23 sent a letter to Cuomo asking for the disaster declaration so affected businesses could qualify for Small Business Administration loans.
Thiele said that after gathering more detailed information on the businesses, there are not enough with uninsured physical damage for a disaster area to be declared on that basis.
“Based on information collected thus far, it is more likely that a declaration could be issued based on economic loss due to the business interruption during this important sales period,” Thiele said. “The Small Business Administration will be working with New York State to qualify Sag Harbor for relief based on economic injury.”
Thiele said economic injury disaster loans can be used to advance funds to a business based on what it would have earned if not for the fire. “Such working capital can be very helpful to small businesses, especially during the lean winter months,” he said.
Thiele said village officials will work with the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce to complete the forms and collect the necessary information to make a declaration based on economic injury.
“I urge all affected businesses to provide this additional information,” Thiele said, adding that interested business owners should contact the village clerk’s office.