After 10 months of continued decay, Governor Cuomo attends Stony Point meeting for storm reconstruction
BY MICHAEL RICONDA
Stony Point –Welcomed by community officials and residents, Governor Andrew Cuomo made an appearance at the New York Rising’s first Stony Point meeting to mark the first steps toward a long-term, state-supported program to rebuild parts of the town and fortify it against future storms.
In total, Stony Point is set to receive $3 million in federal funds provided through the state for repairing damages from Hurricanes Sandy and Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Stony Point may also be eligible for a $3 million bonus made available to communities as awards for the best plans in various categories.
Supporting the program’s initiation, Cuomo argued the need to address changing weather patterns made NY Rising a priority. Though he stopped short of commenting on climate change, he did state the emergence of new climate patterns was “inarguable” and required new emergency preparedness measures.
“I think it is the ostrich strategy to say it’s never going to happen again,” Cuomo said. “I think something has changed fundamentally.”
The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program was launched earlier in 2013 with more than $500 million in New York allocations, a small part of the $30 billion in total federal supplemental appropriation funds set aside for Sandy relief.
Albany will participate with 102 local communities to fund community reconstruction planning committees made up of local leaders, experts and other interested parties to establish local plans and satisfy local redevelopment needs. If a community has a plan within 8 months, it will be submitted for review in Albany.
Cuomo’s position on the local planning committees was one of local expertise, where the state allows local authorities to act according to their own experience in their respective communities rather than relying upon Albany which might not share the same knowledge.
Stony Point has faced continued stress from storm recovery. Since Sandy, Stony Point is still moving to clean up damaged buildings and aid distressed homeowners who are seeking reimbursements for their losses.
As of July, Rockland County received over $8.9 million in FEMA Public Assistance Grants, though the process by which these grants were made available has been criticized as slow and frustrating. The state also announced in July that another round of grants would be made to eligible Rockland applicants through FEMA, with each home receiving up to $300,000 in funds.
Local activist Susan Filgueras and Councilwoman Luanne Konopko were especially helpful during a summer trip to Albany in gaining Cuomo’s attendance in Stony Point.