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All Boroughs Except Brooklyn To Receive Federal Aid Following Irene

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TWC News: All Boroughs Except Brooklyn To Receive Federal Aid Following Irene
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The city is getting federal aid to help clean up after Hurricane Irene, but only four of the five boroughs learned they would benefit Wednesday, leaving Brooklyn without help from FEMA, despite Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s estimation that the area suffered more than $25 million in damage.

President Barack Obama declared parts of New York a major disaster area on Wednesday.

Residents in eight of the hardest hit upstate counties will get assistance for home repairs in addition to access to low-cost loans.

The city will be reimbursed for costs including debris removal and emergency repairs in every borough, expect Brooklyn.

Markowitz said that while he is thankful Brooklyn escaped the worst of Hurricane Irene, residents still suffered extensive damage.

"I am baffled how Brooklyn could be left off the FEMA list when the Bronx is included, Manhattan is included, and believe me, we sustained in Brooklyn more than $25 million worth of damage, a lot more than Manhattan, so I have no clue how we're not on the list,” said Markowitz.

Teams were still assessing Wednesday the damage in Brooklyn and other counties that were not given federal assistance.

Those counties could receive federal funding at a later date, according to the Office of Emergency Management.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and the head of FEMA joined Governor Andrew Cuomo on a tour Wednesday of some of the most devastated areas upstate.

"There are two realities to what Irene did to New York. And one reality was that New York City and on Long Island, in some ways, we celebrated that the damage wasn't as bad as it could have been downstate. That's one reality," said Cuomo. "There's an exact opposite reality in upstate New York, the mid-Hudson, the Catskills, the North Country that paid a terrible, terrible price for this storm and is going to need our time and our attention and our resources to restore."

"FEMA will not be going. We will remain here. There will be a presence here. We will be helping you with this recovery and bringing this community back to where it was before," Napolitano said.

Of New York's 62 counties, 26 have damage.

Six New Yorkers were killed because of the storm.

Four towns are still underwater.

Cuomo said countless bridges and roads need to be repaired. Debris removal and shelter operations are also being added to the storm's tally.

Meanwhile, parts of Staten Island are still struggling to recover from Irene.

Damaged furniture is littering the streets and front yards in Bulls Head that was underwater earlier this week.

The Red Cross has been dispatched to hand out flood disaster kits and assess damage.

Local officials surveyed the damage on Wednesday and are trying to determine why the area flooded.

"It was like a sink. The sink was stopped up and the water had one place to go, and that was up over the cars and in the basements. We're here to try and figure out why this happened and what, if anything, we can do to ensure that it doesn't happen again," said City Councilman James Oddo.

"This is something that doesn't happen in this neighborhood. Flooding like this has never existed. We want to get answers," said Assemblyman Michael Cusick.

"We had a meeting yesterday with the politicians. We know that they're all working on it. Every neighbor is concerned about the outcome of that. We definitely need help, there's no question about that," said resident Bill McGinniss.

Local officials believe the flooding may have started at the pond in Willowbrook Park, where water outlets appear to have been blocked.

Analysts say Irene will likely be one of the 10 costliest disasters in U.S. history with estimated damage totaling anywhere between $7 billion and $10 billion.

Meanwhile, Consolidated Edison expects to have electricity returned to all city customers by Thursday morning.

Of the 70,000 customers who lost power during the storm, by 11 p.m. Wednesday more than 300 customers remained in the dark, including slightly fewer than 200 in Queens.

The utility says Irene was its worst storm ever for damage caused by trees.

Con Ed says its crews have been working around the clock to clear away hundreds of fallen trees that took out power lines.

For more information or to report an outage, visit ConEd.com or call 1-800-75-CONED.

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