Schumer, Gillibrand, Collins and Higgins Urge SBA to Prepare to Swiftly Offer Assistance to Western New Yorkers
Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Chris Collins and Congressman Brian Higgins today wrote to Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Contreras-Sweet urging the SBA to prepare to swiftly administer disaster assistance to the Western New York region.
County officials have said they expect the cost of this disaster to meet the criteria needed for federal support, and, if it does, Schumer, Gillibrand, Collins, and Higgins have said that small business owners who incurred losses due to the storm should be able to seek SBA disaster assistance. For small business owners, many of whom have had to shut down for the past week, this federal assistance will be necessary to start the rebuilding process as soon as possible. The lawmakers said that up to $2 million in SBA loan assistance is available to small businesses that are not fully covered by private insurance policies. The SBA will also be able to provide low interest loans of up to $40,000 to qualified renters and homeowners to replace personal property, and up to $200,000 to homeowners to repair or replace damaged homes. Schumer, Gillibrand, Collins, and Higgins are urging the SBA to be ready to quickly assess the damage so that small business owners, renters and homeowners may be quickly approved for any disaster funding in the impacted counties, including Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Genesee & Wyoming if they qualify.
In their letter, Schumer, Gillibrand, Collins and Higgins write: “As the total snow and flooding damage is assessed by state and federal officials, we fully anticipate a Presidential-level disaster declaration facilitating Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) support. It is imperative that the SBA act now to ensure loans and disaster response procedures are prepared and also that the SBA be ready to make its own agency-level disaster declaration, should the need arise.”
“It is critical that we get federal resources and agencies, like the Small Business Administration, on the ground as soon as possible, so that Erie County and the other impacted Western New York counties can recover and rebuild after this severe weather,” said Senator Schumer. “The SBA must stand ready to approve a federal disaster declaration and provide all forms of available aid for impacted homeowners and businesses, including low-interest loans to help small businesses that have lost inventory and customers get back on their feet.”
"Western New York homeowners and businesses that weathered this storm should not have to bear the burden of cleanup costs on their own,” said Senator Gillibrand. “As small businesses in areas hit hardest by the storm assess the damages, and with the potential for severe flooding, it is critical that all federal resources are made available. SBA disaster loans will go a long way in helping families and businesses get back on their feet, and begin to recover. I will continue to do all that I can to ensure that all possible resources are accessible to communities impacted by this snow storm.”
“With hundreds of small businesses in Western New York being unable to operate over the past week due to this historic weather disaster, federal resources need to be made available immediately upon a disaster declaration,” said Congressman Collins. “As a small business owner myself, I understand the catastrophic impact an unforeseen weather event like this can have on a business. The additional damages expected to impact businesses operations as a result of flooding have only exacerbated the need for this critical federal assistance.”
“Local business is an integral part of the Western New York community and economy,” said Congressman Higgins. “It is nearly impossible for owners to prepare for the lost business and potential property damage caused by this recent storm. I encourage swift federal assistance to help small business owners recover from this natural disaster.”
Dear Administrator Contreras-Sweet:
We write to you regarding the recent severe snow storms in Western New York and ask for your assistance in aiding the affected communities.
On November 18, 2014, New York State declared a state of emergency for several Western New York counties in response to one of the worst snow storms the region has ever experienced. Areas around the city of Buffalo are still covered in snow, trapping some people in their homes. Many small businesses have been shut down for nearly a week and recently the weight of the over 6 feet of snow in some locations is caving in roofs, destroying personal property, and endangering lives. Soon, the inevitable warming of the area is almost certain to cause flooding of historic proportions, causing further damage and harm to a shocked community.
It is for these reasons, in the most dire of circumstances, that we ask for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to prepare to aid this community in the near future by offering low-rate loans to persons who are not fully covered by private insurance policies. As the total snow and flooding damage is assessed by state and federal officials, we fully anticipate a Presidential-level disaster declaration facilitating Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) support. It is imperative that the SBA act now to ensure loans and disaster response procedures are prepared and also that the SBA be ready to make its own agency-level disaster declaration, should the need arise.
We anticipate that damages from the storm will hit the level needed for the state to request an SBA physical disaster declaration, which is triggered when the physical damage to 25 homes or businesses is in excess of 40% of the uninsured value of the property. If this threshold is reached, SBA will be able to provide qualified recipients with low interest loans of up to $40,000 to renters and homeowners to replace personal property; up to $200,000 to homeowners to repair or replace damaged homes; and up to $2 million to business owners to repair damaged businesses.
Thank you for your immediate consideration. The people of Western New York cannot wait to begin applying for low-rate direct loans from the SBA as they begin the rebuilding process before this holiday season.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Representative Chris Collins
Representative Brian Higgins