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Help available for Hurricane Sandy victims

Bronx Times

Bronxites suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy needn’t go it alone. Help is available.

Many elected officials and government agencies from the federal, state, and city governments are standing by to assist.

Mayor Bloomberg has called Sandy a storm of historic intensity, but noted there has been an enormous outpouring of people eager to volunteer, donate, or help out.

“We encourage people to register with NYC Service at www.facebook.com/nycservice, and we’ll be identifying opportunities for volunteers in the coming days,” said Bloomberg.

But those seeking help in clearing away debris or applying for disaster relief need not have to look very far.

POWER OUTAGES

As of early Wednesday evening, about 42,000 Bronx customers were still in the dark. There were about 15,616 reported outages in Morris Park, about 788 in Country Club and Spencer Estate, roughly 3,700 in Throggs Neck, and about 2,000 customers on City Island in the east Bronx. Con Ed said it could take anywhere from four days to a week to restore full power.

Customers can report downed power lines, outages, and check service restoration status by computer or mobile device at www.conEd.com. They also can call 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633). When reporting an outage, it is helpful if customers have their Con Edison account number available, if possible, and report whether their neighbors also have lost power. Customers who report outages will be called by Con Edison with their estimated restoration times as they become available.

The company is advising its customers to pay close attention to reports from city and municipal officials. Con Edison will continue to provide updates through the media as the storm moves closer. In addition, important information also will be posted on the company’s Web site, www.conEd.com.

FALLEN TREES

Residents can call 311 for fallen tress. If phone call wait times are long, you can log in online www.nyc.gov/apps/311.

FEDERAL DISASTER RELIEF FOR HOMEOWNERS AND BUSINESSES

The federal government’s Federal Emergency Management Agency has made applying for disaster relief easy for homeowners and businesses. You can simply log into their website disasterassistance.gov, call (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or visit their mobile website at m.fema.gov.

As an additional federal resource if your business has sustained hurricane related damage, you can apply to the U.S. Department of Small Business Administration for a disaster loan by calling (800) 659-2955 or e-mailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE

The New York City Department of Small Business Services and the New York City Economic Development is coordinating a set of services to assist small businesses recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

For small to medium-sized businesses, loans will be patterned after similar programs deployed in past emergencies and capped at $10,000 for those businesses experiencing a storm related interruption in services.

For mid- to large- sized businesses that need to undertake rebuilding an emergency sales tax letter from New York City Industrial Development will be available allowing businesses to avoid payment of New York City and State sales taxes on materials needed to rebuild. IDA will waive all fees and seek to streamline its process while following all applicable laws. This reconstruction benefit is expected to help in rebuilding efforts costing more than $500,000. Please contact Shin Mitsugi at smitsugi@nycedc.com for more information.

For any business temporarily displaced from its space, the NYCEDC has about 40,000 square-feet of warehouse space at Brooklyn Army Terminal for short-term “swing-space” for businesses. Please call 311 and ask for NYC Business Solutions.

For any business in need of other emergency assistance, the SBS Business Outreach Team and Emergency Response Unit’s Large Scale Response Team will be deployed after the storm to help all impacted small businesses. Please call 311 and ask for NYC Business Solutions.

TRANSPORTATION

With MTA officials calling the Hurricane Sandy the worst storm in 108-years of mass transit in the city, it might be several days before the entire mass transit system gets fully back into service. However, buses on nearly all routes were running as of Wednesday. The Army Corps of Engineers is busy removing water and debris from tunnels for vehicular traffic and subways.

GENERAL HELP

Senator Jeff Klein’s office was busy assisting with paperwork and damage requests for the 34th Senate District as of press time. His office can be reached at (718) 822-2049, or in person at 1250 Waters Place, Suite 1202.

Klein’s office is working with all relevant federal, state, and city agencies to ensure that repairs and power restorations proceed as quickly as possible, according to a spokesman.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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