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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Obama issues disaster declaration for Yates County flooding

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  • President Barack Obama has issued a federal major disaster declaration for 11 counties in upstate New York - including Yates and Steuben - that were hit by storms and flooding in May.
    The disaster declaration clears the way for more than $28 million in federal funding for the region.
    Obama approved the state’s June 16 request for the disaster declaration, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday.
    “This declaration will bring much-needed federal financial assistance to localities that have endured serious hardship and destruction, and help provide for vital repairs following some of the worst flooding these communities have experienced in decades,” Cuomo said in a statement.
    The storms that hit the region May 12 and again on May 15-16 led to devastating localized flooding. Homes were flooded, businesses collapsed, vehicles washed away, power lines were downed and roads were closed.
    Penn Yan was one of the hardest-hit areas, and a large portion of the federal funding will be directed to Yates County, according to Sen. Charles Schumer's office.
    In the wake of the flooding, a preliminary damage assessment was done jointly by the state and FEMA.
    The survey indicated that damage to public infrastructure such as roads and power lines, as well as emergency response efforts, totaled at least $28.2 million for state and county governments. That’s what the federal reimbursement is based on.
    The federal reimbursement will be distributed to the state and then to local governments and private non-profits to assist with the recovery.
    Residents and business owners in Yates County and its contiguous counties - including Steuben - have also been approved for a low-interest disaster loan program run by the federal Small Business Administration, Schumer announced June 20.
    The program includes low-interest loans up to $40,000 for renters and homeowners to replace personal property; up to $200,000 to homeowners to repair, replace, or clean up damaged homes; and up to $2 million to business owners to repair damaged businesses.

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