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Astorino updates on Sandy progress

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The Disaster Recovery Center at the Westchester County Center in White Plains will close Dec. 21, County Executive Robert Astorino announced at a press conference todau at the center.

Astorino urged residents who suffered damage from Hurricane Sandy to file an application with FEMA before the Dec. 31 deadline. Sandy caused $42 million in damage to county-owned land, including $12 million at Rye Playland.

“The Ice Casino was trashed,” Astorino said. “The North Boardwalk was obliterated. But the park will be open in May, no matter what.”

The rest of the county parks totaled $12.5 million in damage. Thirty municipalities have reported a combined $15 million in damage, though the number is expected to rise. Astorino said that 300,000 people lost power, criticizing Con Edison for its communication and the performance of its liaisons.

“Too many people were left in the dark for too long,” Astorino said. “Con Ed needs to do a better job. Their liaisons need better training skills to get the job done.”

Compared to other parts of the New York metropolitan area, Astorino said that Westchester County was fairly lucky.

“We came through Hurricane Sandy together,” Astorino said.

With the storm over, Astorino has teamed with other area elected officials to lobby Washington to ensure that the county gets adequate federal funding. At a minimum, the county is entitled to be reimbursed for 75 percent of the cost, with the remaining 25 percent to be split between the county and the state.

Small businesses are also starting to recover from the storm damage. Richard Daigle, public affairs specialist for the Small Business Administration, announced the approval of seven loans for homeowners, totaling $198,500, with 730 applications outstanding. According to Daigle, no small businesses have been approved yet.

Small businesses and homeowners have until Dec. 31 to apply for physical damage loans and until July 31 to apply for economic injury loans.

“Our message to the people of Westchester is to get those applications in,” Daigle said. “Don’t wait on insurance settlements. The sooner you apply, the sooner you can be approved.”

Businesses can borrow up to $2 million with interest rates as low as 4 percent. Daigle and Astorino said that while Westchester fared better than its neighbors, businesses still suffered.

“If you miss a week or lose your customers, it’s very difficult,” Astorino said. “A lot of these businesses are barely hanging on and this could be the death knell.”

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  1. Just wanted to add that The Mental Health Association of Westchester (MHA) has been chosen by FEMA to deliver mental health outreach and crisis services to those affected by Sandy. A team of twelve has already been assembled and will soon begin visiting the 11,000 individuals in Westchester and Rockland estimated to have been impacted.
    Those at emotional risk after a traumatic storm such as Sandy are children; older adults; people with prior trauma, disabilities, serious mental illnesses and substance abuse problems and feelings or sense of hopelessness; people with low-incomes; first responders and other public safety workers.
    Symptoms include irritability, poor concentration, low mood and hopelessness, isolation, discouragement, grief over losses and alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse.
    If you would like to contact Project Hope, call 914-345-5900 extension 7543 or 7544.

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