Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland), the ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, announced on Tuesday a $2.4 million Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant for the Town of Clarkstown. The grant reimburses Clarkstown for 75 percent of the debris removal costs resulting from Hurricane Sandy.
“This is 75 percent of the debris removal, downed trees and things the highway department removed,” said Town Supervisor Alex Gromack. “We applied for $3.2 million.”
Town officials hope for New York State to cover another 12.5 percent of the debris cleanup expenses. Gromack said there are more aid applications in the pipeline for about $600,000 to $800,000 spent on repairs and approximately $1 million spent on employees’ overtime after Sandy.
“I would estimate the total the town had to expend to deal with Superstorm Sandy was in the area of $5 million,” said Gromack.
Lowey acknowledged that Hurricane Sandy placed a huge burden on Clarkstown’s budget and that of other municipalities.
“This kind of badly-needed and long-awaited federal assistance will help Clarkstown meet its financial needs as it restores vital services to the community and prepares for future natural disasters,” she said.
Gromack expressed optimism that the announcement of the $2.4 million grant meant that the town’s other applications would be reviewed, processed and reimbursed soon. He said the federal government appeared to be responding more quickly in dealing with the financial aid requests from Sandy than for previous storms. A FEMA representative assigned to the town’s highway department assisted with preparing the reimbursement application. Gromack said it is possible the town’s cleanup may not be complete and some work may be ongoing in town parks.
The grant comes from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, which was increased to its maximum level after Congress passed bipartisan Sandy aid legislation in January 2013. Lowey helped lead the bipartisan effort to pass the full assistance package.