Tropical Storms Irene and Lee devastated many areas of our state. In Oneida and Oswego counties, many residents have contacted my office for updates and assistance. Fortunately, there are many outlets for help as we continue to recover and rebuild from these back-to-back storms.
As I write this column, roughly $3 million is available to help homeowners replace appliances or heating equipment lost due to storm damage. Managed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Storm Relief Appliance Rebate Program will continue to provide rebates to qualifying homeowners until funds run out for the purchase of replacement refrigerators, washers, dehumidifiers, furnaces, boilers, gas hot-water heaters, and heat-pump water heaters, as well as a variety of other Energy Star appliances and equipment. For a complete list of eligible items, applications, and eligibility information, please visit NYSERDA’s rebate website at
www.NYSApplianceRebateProgram.com or call 1-877-NY-SMART (1-877-697-6278).
While many homeowners experienced wind damage and flooding, family farmers suffered some of the gravest damage. For example, more than 140,000 acres of farmland have been lost. In response, the state has created the Agricultural and Community Recovery Fund (ACRF), which is offering at least $15 million to assist farmland recovery statewide. Recovery grants are managed by each county’s Department of Soil and Water. If you are a farmer and need assistance on projects such as clearing debris, repairing roads or infrastructure, or with crop and/or livestock loss, please contact your county’s Department of Soil and Water as soon as possible. As always, farmers also can contact my office for further assistance.
Oneida County was recently approved for federal disaster aid as the result of Tropical Storm Lee. This means that homeowners, renters, and small businesses may qualify for Individual Assistance offered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including their individual and household programs, crisis counseling, disaster unemployment assistance, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food coupons and distribution, USDA food commodities, Disaster Legal Services, the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Small Business Administration disaster loans. To find out more or to apply, please visit FEMA’s website at www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
As we continue to work together with local, state, and federal officials to recover from the storms, information and assistance opportunities are rapidly changing. For example, stranded boaters (or those who typically move their boats down the Mohawk River) should know that the Erie Canal will be reopened for commercial and recreational traffic for a two-week period from Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2011, through December 8, 2011. Not only is this information important for boaters concerned about winterizing their boats, it represents an economic boost for riverfront businesses throughout the Mohawk Valley.
Please know that my office is here to assist you in your recovery, and I will continue to keep residents and employers in Oneida and Oswego counties apprised of important news and opportunities. For any assistance, please do not hesitate to call or email my office at 315-853-2383 or firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.