SUNY BEST finds flood reconstruction funds insufficient

Broome Country receives $21.66M in relief for Tropical Storm Lee

Two and a half years since flooding displaced 30,000 Broome County residents, SUNY Business and Education Cooperative of the Southern Tier (SUNY BEST) detailed the progress of the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program and Binghamton University’s Small Business Development Center.

Broome County received $21.66 million to implement reconstruction plans. Projects include rebuilding infrastructure, housing and public facilities, as well as rebuilding structures that did not stand up to the storm, and may push out to projects concerning emergency evacuations to accommodate more people.

However, this money allotted to the Broome County area is a fraction of the $600 million given to the state for community reconstructions.

“This money will barely scratch the surface of what we need to do,” said Vince Pasquale, co-chair of Broome Community Reconstruction Committee. “We won’t be able to address all of the projects that need to be done, but it’s a good start.”

The program, established this past summer, provides funds to areas still struggling with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

“The primary purpose of this effort is to rebuild resilience. We want to protect the future of the community assets,” said Julie Sweet, regional lead of the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program in Broome and Tioga Counties.

According to Pasquale, there were over 100 suggestions from residents who gave their opinions of what they wanted from the program. New York Rising members picked programs out of these suggestions that furthered goals of improving infrastructure and emergency evacuation procedures.

“Among all we have to do, we can’t lose sight of the regional issue of long-term flooding resilience,” Sweet said. “We need to look at how to prevent floods as best as we can. We’re trying to advance to these solutions as effectively as possible.”

Rochelle Layman, regional director of BU’s Small Business Development Center, gave a separate presentation on this Binghamton University site that provides financial compensation to small businesses affected by the recent storms. The group advises people and helps them fill out grant applications to the State of New York Small Business Storm Recovery Program to receive compensation for losses to their businesses from the recent storms.

“When you come to the SBDC, an advisor there will go through a number of steps with the business owner, including review and compile eligible losses, complete and submit an application,” Layman said.

This is not the first time the University has hosted a storm-recovery assistance program. BU provided the Events Center as shelter to displaced residents during Tropical Storm Lee.

“[Binghamton University] hosted a bunch of meetings for us, including the meeting when the projects were announced. Though we’re not provided by the University, their connections and relationships have contributed,” Pasquale said.