Queens legislators and Gov. David Paterson are calling on President Barack Obama to send federal disaster aid to the borough in the wake of last month’s tornado that caused more than $27 million in damage to the city, according to a preliminary federal report.
But before being able to send money to Queens, the president would have to designate the city a federal disaster area.
“This was a true disaster that no city or family should be expected to weather alone,” U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) said. “This designation will leverage help from the federal government and it is vital.”
Weiner and fellow U.S. Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Michael McMahon (D-Staten Island) sent a letter to Obama Saturday asking him for the federal aid. Paterson on Friday announced he would seek help from the federal government after a preliminary report issued by federal inspectors found the Sept. 16 storm caused more than $27 million in damages, $17.2 million of which was in Queens, including the complete destruction of four homes and major damage to at least 89 residential houses and apartments. Investigators had to find at least $23 million in damages for the city to be able to receive federal funds.
“The storm struck New York City with a vengeance, cutting-off electric power in thousands of homes and businesses, disrupting travel for thousands and causing extensive property damage and, tragically, the loss of one life,” Paterson said. “I have worked closely with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who told me that the city has not seen storm damage of this magnitude since Hurricane Gloria in 1985. New Yorkers need help from Washington in recovering from this devastating storm.”
Last months’ tornado ripped through Forest Hills, Rego Park, Maspeth, Middle Village, Flushing and Bayside. In a matter of minutes, the storm that packed 125 mph winds brought down more than 1,000 trees in Queens, many of which fell onto homes and crashed onto cars. Aline Levakis, 30, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., died in the storm after her car was struck by a tree on the side of the Grand Central Parkway near Jewel Avenue, according to police.
As many as 45,000 people were left without power in the five boroughs, with most of them in Queens, according to federal and state officials.
“The devastating storms that hit our city last month not only caused millions of dollars in damages, but also placed an incredible burden on the city, as well as residents and business owners,” Crowley said.
Paterson is asking for funds from the Federal Emergency Management Association’s individual assistance programs, which would provide disaster housing and rental assistance and other items such as clothing. Funds from the program would help people with disaster-related medical costs, unemployment assistance, crisis counseling and low-interest loans.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson
©2010 Community News Group
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