Three months after the devastating storm that claimed 11 lives, FEMA has already approved over 33,000 individuals and households for disaster assistance totaling over $160 million.
Nine Disaster Recovery Centers opened up in and around New York City in hard-hit neighborhoods, including one at Queens College. FEMA also dispatched Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams, twhich visited affected neighborhoods to help residents apply for assistance.
Tenants in illegal basement apartments are also eligible to apply for assistance. A FEMA grant may help replace furniture, rugs, appliances and other items not covered by renter’s insurance.
In late September, Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that $27 million is available to provide relief to undocumented residents affected by the storm and severe flooding. Funds were distributed via grants to a network of community organizations, including MinKwon Center for Community Action and Make the Road in Queens and the Chinese American Planning Council in Brooklyn.
“The flooding from Ida devastated our communities, causing enormous damage to the homes of many of the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Theo Oshiro, co-executive director of Make the Road. “Through this fund, neighbors and loved ones in dire need of relief will be able to begin repairing their homes and move forward with their lives.”
Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, whose district includes parts of Corona, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, stressed the need for continuing government assistance.
“Many in our community lost everything after the devastating floods caused by Ida,” said Cruz. “In our office alone, we have had to tell more than 25 families that there are no existing resources to help them in their time of need.
“The federal government needs to provide the same resources available to citizens to all who were impacted, including our neighbors who did not qualify due to immigration status,” she added.
Efforts have also been made to equip homeowners with materials that may come in handy during extreme weather conditions.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently gave out sandbags in South Ozone Park to residents whose homes flooded. Cars lined up to receive a maximum of 20 sandbags, and DOT workers helped load trunkswith the nearly 50-pound bags.
“We see it, we’re out on the roadways, highways and streets everyday,” said a DOT official handing out sandbags. “We saw people with their garbage out on the streets when Hurricane Ida happened. We’re here to do whatever we can do to help mitigate these problems.
“I recommend people watch the weather forecasts and be prepared,” the official added. “Have candles in case you lose power, and make sure the trap is clean in front of your garage door or basement door. Be prepared, that’s really the most important thing.”
Residents have until December 6 to apply for FEMA assistance. Applications are available on the FEMA app, (800) 621-3362, or at DisasterAssistance.gov.