LIC/Astoria businesses hear options for storm relief
by Kathleen Lees
Nov 20, 2012 | 638 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer  discusses relief options for businesses hurt by the hurricane.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer discusses relief options for businesses hurt by the hurricane.
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Hurricane Sandy and the follow-up nor’easter left many businesses and their owners facing tough questions about where to get help. And depending on the severity of the damage, insurance might not have be enough to cover all of the damage.

Elected officials and community members have been reaching out to let those in need know about the opportunities available for emergency assistance.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and other officials spoke at the Long Island City/Astoria Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting this past Thursday to update business owners about efforts on programs and services available.

Many businesses, particularly in Long Island City, are still working to reopen their doors and restore lost merchandise since the storm. Even the normal meeting spot for the LIC/Astoria Chamber - the Waterfront Crab House - was relocated to Da Gianni’s Restaurant at 21-50 44th Drive because of damages to the original location.

“There’s no way to measure the human cost lost to business owners. Their whole lives are in these businesses,” Van Bramer said. “That’s why we went to these places and said we’re here.”

The councilman, who has been spreading the word about help since the storm struck, mentioned FEMA applications for businesses, as well as families, that may need a grant or loan to help restore their buildings or homes.

As some parts of Long Island City are in the Zone A, or areas at highest risk of damage from powerful storms, Van Bramer also stressed that there needed to be some “serious thinking about how to plan for future storms.”

Van Bramer said that as LIC is currently working to add two new schools, P.S. 312 and and I.S./H.S. 404, scheduled to open in September of 2013, and a new library at Hunters Point that is currently under construction, he is hoping to work with officials to prevent the buildings from damage future storms could cause.

“There’s a discussion about protecting LIC for the long haul because there is every reason to believe it could happen again,” Van Bramer said.

And for those affected this time around, other officials spoke regarding assistance and support for damaged businesses.

Bernadette Nation, director of the Business Outreach Team and Emergency Response Unit of the Department of Small Business Services, discussed opportunities for impacted businesses to ask questions regarding concerns about damage from the storm or other disasters, particularly involving insurance coverage.

As for problems caused by the recent storms, Bernadette said some businesses might run into problems with damages and what insurance would cover.

“Sorry, you don’t have flood insurance so we can’t help you,” she said, referring to what many are going to hear from their insurance companies. “They need to tell you why you’re not eligible. I have the expert to answer those questions.”

Shin Mitsugi, deputy executive director of the Economic Development Corporation and the New York City Industrial Development Agency, also spoke about emergency assistance programs for businesses, with loans available through the organization of up to $25,000 and no interest for the first six months.

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