Borough President Donovan Richards invited representatives from various city agencies to answer questions from local residents during a town hall in Astoria last week.
The panel included members from the New York City Housing Authority, NYPD and Department of Sanitation (DSNY). Much of the discussion at the Variety Boys & Girls Club centered on the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and the deadly flooding in Queens.
“Tropical Storm Ida hit our communities hard,” Richards said. “We learned you do not need to live in a flood zone in order for your house to flood.”
Raymond Gonzalez, an applicant program specialist from FEMA, encouraged people who were impacted by the storm to seek aid on the organization’s website or go to FEMA’s disaster recovery center at Queens College in Flushing for assistance.
The deadline to apply for federal aid is November 5.
“FEMA is designed to make your residence livable, sanitary and safe,” Gonzalez said. “Currently, the max that you could receive for home repair is $36,000. The max that you can receive for your personal property is also $36,000.”
Iggy Azzara of DSNY discussed the comprehensive efforts his agency has undertaken to remove storm debris.
Normally, homeowners are required to hire private demolition companies to haul away building materials, but DSNY is making exceptions because of the disaster’s severity.
“We’re taking everything,” he said. “Regardless of when your collection day is, just put it out and we won’t be giving anybody summonses over it.”
Richards said he is working with private banking organizations and foundations to ensure that residents in Queens impacted by the recent floods can receive extra funding, possibly in the form of grants.
“Coming out of the pandemic people are already strapped for dollars and homeowners who are behind on their loans shouldn’t have to take out another because of this,” he said.