2012-12-12 / Features

FEMA Urged To Extend Recovery Aid Deadline

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Pointing out that many small business owners in New York City have not had time to assess their damages from Hurricane Sandy, and FEMA’s December 31 deadline is getting nearer, a group of local congressmembers have appealed to the federal agency to extend that deadline for small businesses to apply for disaster aid.

They asked that the deadline be extended to May 1, 2013.

Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, among those in the group, pleaded with FEMA, “These businesses are the backbone of our economy— and unless they get the help they need—many of them will close their doors. Entire neighborhoods are in trouble and we want to be able to extend a helping hand so that these businesses come back.”

Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan) noted, “Sixty days is just not enough time to allow the hundreds of thousands of affected businesses a chance to file their claims. That’s why we are joining today in a bipartisan effort to ask FEMA to extend its deadline for disaster aid applications to ensure that every small business eligible for relief has the opportunity to conduct a comprehensive assessment of damage and losses to apply for assistance.”

Among other New York delegation lawmakers joining in the plea to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate were Congressmembers Joseph Crowley (D–Queens/The Bronx) and Michael Grimm, a Republican from hard-hit Staten Island.

Also joining the congressmembers was NYC Commissioner Robert Walsh, of the Department of Small Business Services, who stated:

“Many NYC businesses are back on their feet, but many are also still working to open their doors, and I thank Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and the New York delegation for working with SBA (Small Business Administration) to extend the deadline for registering for SBA loans.”

So far, the lawmakers said, 245,703 New Yorkers have registered with FEMA since the hurricane struck, and FEMA has provided survivors $745 million to help individuals and families in NYC to recover from the disaster. FEMA is also reaching out to all of the 13 declared counties, especially the hardest hit areas of New York state.

To date, assistance to the hardest hit areas includes the five boroughs and Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island. Queens has received $190 million in aid.

The SBA has approved nearly $85.5 million in disaster loans to homeowners, renters and businesses, the lawmakers’ statement said. The SBA has set up 19 Business Recovery Centers in the New York area to provide one-on-one help to business owners seeking disaster assistance.

The SBA disaster loan application, part of the FEMA grant process, can lead to other forms of assistance, including additional grants, they said. For more information call the SBA Disaster Customer Service Center at its toll free number, 800-659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339). Assistance is also available by sending an e-mail to DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov or by visiting www.sba.gov.

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