Communities in New York State ravaged by flood waters will soon be eligible for about $750 million in federal grant money, and about $165 million could go to New York City neighborhoods still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
About $750 million will be available in the form of grants to 102 communities scattered throughout New York State. The money comes from the $60 billion federal aid package approved by the federal government following Hurricane Sandy, but upstate areas affected by Tropical Storms Lee and Irene in 2011 are also eligible.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the grant program in Albany on Thursday.
"It's not enough for any region to rebuild their communities back to the way they were. Instead we've got to build better and stronger communities that can withstand emerging environmental threats," said Donovan.
"You have to dig deep and remember who you are. Remember you are New Yorkers at the end of the day, remember that blood that is in your veins. Remember what built this state in the first place," said Cuomo.
Communities must apply for the money and the criteria for how much they receive includes population, level of damage from previous storms and amount of innovation in the plan.
"Well, you don't automatically get any money. You've got to have a reasonable plan. We bring in experts in from around the country to work with these communities. In addition we do have a competitive element," said State Director of Operations Howard Glaser.
Critics say this could pit communities against one another and they fear that "competitive" is a code word for "political."
"It's code for political decision making. On the end, who is going to decide? The governor is going to decide, his staff, on terms of what project is more meritorious instead of helping those who are truly in need," said Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, a Republican from Utica.
A total of 18 New York city communities will be eligible for about $165 million in grants. They include neighborhoods like Coney Island in Brooklyn and Far Rockaway and Breezy Point in Queens, as well as Staten Island and Manhattan, the latter two of which are each are eligible for $25 million.