Lake Ontario shoreline property owners seeking state aid to help repair flood damage have until Friday to file an application.
New York state has set aside $15 million to provide grants to shoreline residents whose property suffered in the flooding, which began in March.
Fueled by extremely heavy spring rainfall, Lake Ontario rose to record-high levels later in the spring. Numerous properties suffered damage from water and waves, particularly during high-wind events that drove large waves ashore.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo filed a long-shot application for federal disaster assistance, but it has yet to be approved.
In the absence of federal aid, Cuomo and the state Legislature agreed on a relief package that also includes $30 million reserved for businesses and shoreline municipalities. Those parties have until December 31 to file their applications.
Homeowners, though, have only until 5 p.m. Friday to drop off or mail a paper application or to fill out one online.
"It is fast, It is easy. They just have to put their name on the form and get it postmarked. It’s so critical, because after Friday it’s done," said Cheryl Kisicki, a Hamlin shoreline property owner who helped organize a joint project to rebuild the break walls in front of more than a dozen properties in her neighborhood.
The state program provides homeowners with grants of up to $50,000 for repairs to structures or break walls that aren't covered by insurance. There is no income cap for primary homes. For non-primary homes, there is a household income cap of $275,000.
At least 350 applications have been received as of late last week from Orleans County shoreline property owners, according to Susan Boss, executive of Pathstone, a non-profit housing agency administering the state aid program in Orleans.
"Honestly, we’ve received more applications than I anticipated we would," Boss said.
Nonetheless, the agency is taking a number of steps to inform shoreline residents of the looming deadline. Boss suspects there are still residents who haven't applied.
"There are people who have emailed or called our office and didn’t even know the program existed and wondered how to go about applying for assistance. That was kind of shocking to me.
"But then again, people don’t read or watch the news. And we have a lot of people who don’t live in the area. We’ve even had a few people who don’t live in the country. If they’re not keeping up with local news or they don’t have anybody watching their home, they wouldn’t know," Boss said.
Kisicki said she was told that the Bishop Sheen Ecumenical Housing Foundation, which is administering the state program in Monroe, Wayne and Cayuga counties, has received more than 1,000 applications. Officials there couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.
All applications must be filed with the housing organizations designated by the state. that are administering the program for the state. They're available on Bishop Sheen's and Pathstone's websites, from which they can be downloaded and printed out.
Once the applications are filled out, they must be in the postal mail by Friday, or emailed back or dropped off by that day.
Applications will be accepted even if the homeowner doesn't have all the required information and documents in hand, and even if they have not yet received an estimate of the cost of repairs.
"If you don’t have documents right there, file anyway. Just get your applications in," Kisicki advised.
Shortcut link to the Monroe, Wayne and Cayuga counties application: http://bit.ly/2y9Kues
Shortcut link to the Orleans County application: http://bit.ly/2sxt0oR