After record-setting rainfall during Hurricane Ida, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, to aid homeowners in paying for necessary repairs as well as announced resources to help residents recover from flood damages.
New York City lost over a dozen lives to the storm flooding and the damage to certain areas of the city, such as Queens, prompting a tour from Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell, and President Joe Biden. They met with local electeds and families who had put their all into their homes and had sustained thousands or tens of thousands of dollars of damage in the deluge.
“And now, you see families struggling. They’ve been through so much with COVID, and now they’re trying to figure out how to overcome this, how to fix their basements, how to clean up, how to fight the mold, all the things that people need to do,” said de Blasio.
De Blasio thanked Biden for his visit to the city. “I appreciate even more that he signed the disaster declaration that now will allow real resources to flow into the hands of New Yorkers affected by the storm,” said de Blasio in the briefing.
De Blasio’s executive order should help subsidize fees or permits for home and small business owners fixing their properties.
“Between COVID-19, shutdowns, the Delta variant, worker shortages, and now Ida’s unprecedented rainfall—how much more can small businesses take without throwing in the towel,” said Randy Peers, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “For many hanging on by the tips of their fingers, any damage sustained may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
The city is also working with the Red Cross to provide debit cards of up to $515 per household to replace water-logged items, temporary shelters for free for families that can’t stay in their homes, emergency water pumping through the Department of Environmental Protection and Sanitation, one-time payments of one month’s rent through MET Council organization, and substantial grants through FEMA.
FEMA is giving $36,000 in direct grants to people who qualify. You can call 3-1-1, or go on the FEMA disaster relief website, disasterassistance.gov.
“We’re launching a door-to-door canvassing effort in the areas affected most by the storm,” said de Blasio. “Make sure people have all the information they need in whatever language they need it in, help people fill out the application, whatever it takes. We don’t want to see anyone go without this support.”
The deeper storm recovery conversation centers around the serious need to address the city’s transportation infrastructure in addition to reinforcing people’s homes.
“Data and studies are needed, but nowhere near enough,” said Councilmember Brad Lander about the city’s current stormwater resiliency plans.
“We need a much more aggressive and comprehensive approach now, one that doesn’t just rely on more studies and private-sector incentives, but brings the resources, regulatory reform, implementation, and enforcement needed to make change at scale quickly,” said Lander.
Lander said federal resources are critical to upgrading the city’s infrastructure from flash flooding, storm surge, sea level rise, and extreme heat. “Our city’s future and the lives of our neighbors depend on it,” he said.
In the meantime, de Blasio said he will be constantly communicating any situation with the weather during his briefings and giving people fair warning ahead of time about rain or thunderstorms.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w