Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) this week announced that local governments in Westchester and Rockland Counties have so far received $35,338,879 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance grants to help with the cost of their response to Sandy. Specifically, communities in Rockland have received $8,927,889 in FEMA Public Assistance grants, she said.
However, those who have had to deal with FEMA, be they town governments or local residents, have reported almost universally frustration and anger. At a meeting in Stony Point with Matthew Nelson, of the state’s Office of Community Renewal, Laura Mariotti, significant other of a resident on battered River Road in Stony Point, said several times, “FEMA is a joke.”
She did not meet much resistance from other residents at the Monday night meeting. Nelson came bearing some good news; he said the state had procured his office with monies to assist recovery efforts and properties would be available for up to $300,000 in grants to assist in rehabilitation.
However, Nelson noted, if property owners already have taken the Small Business Administration up on offers for low-interest loans, that aid will be held against them in the funding equation. This is a fact that enraged audience members, because it meant those who did nothing in the past eight months would fare better than those who had taken the government up on their prior offers of assistance.
On a lighter note, one resident of River Road said he would be laying the foundation to a new home on his property next week. FEMA’s flood maps came out last week, dictating how high residents must raise their homes.