In what's being billed as a bottom-up, community-driven effort to empower localities hit by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm, as well as Superstorm Sandy, New York State has launched a Community Reconstruction Zone program to help develop and fund rebuilding efforts.
The project will be financed initially by $1.7 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program funding.
Under the CRZ program, the state will use that funding toward projects approved by HUD.
The amount available to individual communities will be based on storm damage as assessed by FEMA and for most, will range from $3 million to $25 million if approved.
Eligible communities will be provided with initial planning grants to produce CRZ plans.
Also as part of the $1.7 million is funding earmarked specifically for homeowners and businesses.
That portion of the funding includes:
• $233 million for Recreate NY Smart Home Repair and Construction grants, to help cover the difference between the cost of rebuilding and help already received from other sources.
• $259 million for Recreate NY Smart Home Resilience grants, to help with mitigation for properties in or near the 100-year flood plain.
• $171 million for the Recreate NY Smart Home Buyout Program, for those in areas at high risk of repeated flooding.
• $124 million for similar programs for multi-family properties.
• $415 million for Bringing Business Back, grants of up to $50,000 for businesses, including farms, that suffered physical damage or inventory losses.
• $130 million in low-interest small business loans; $3 million is legal assistance and business consulting; and $30 million in seasonal tourism recovery assistance.
"We're trying to make as many communities aware of this as possible," said Kevin Neary, interim director of Schoharie County Emergency Management, who said his office is already working with SALT, Catholic Charities, and the Schoharie County Community Action Program, among others.
"It's a little overwhelming, but we encourage people to go online and register and then contact the Governor's office or our office if they need more help.
For more information online and to fill out an application, go to NYSandyHelp.ny.gov or call 1-855-NYS-SANDY.
The local EMO number is 296-8606.
Under the CMZ program, communities will need to create a CMZ Planning Committee of local representatives before qualifying for federal funding to implement identified projects; the state will conduct workshops to help the Planning Committees develop their plans.
The planning process is expected to take eight months.
Locally, Esperance, Schoharie, and Middleburgh together are eligible for up to $3, 068,001 in funding.
In Greene County, Prattsville is eligible for up to $3 million.