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Lewisboro Looks to FEMA for Irene Financial Aid

LEWISBORO, N.Y. – Lewisboro town officials will attempt to reclaim some of the money spent coping with Tropical Storm Irene and its aftermath from FEMA.

Leaders from Westchester County municipalities, school districts and fire districts came to the county’s office of emergency management office in Mt. Pleasant earlier this week to meet with FEMA officials and learn the process of claim reimbursement. Over 200 people showed up for the event.

Supervisor Charles Duffy, who attended the meeting, noted that there are separate reimbursement processes for municipalities and private nonprofit organizations, such as the ambulance corps. He said the town needs to submit its forms by Sept. 30 to establish a claim, but the specifics, including how much money to ask for, won’t be due until next month.

Duffy said the town doesn’t have specific numbers yet on how much money was spent on Irene, but said “it didn’t break the bank.”

“We don’t have any ballpark figures right now, but we know it could have been a lot worse,” he said. “We weren’t devastated like some of the towns upstate, we were inconvenienced.”

FEMA has split up the reimbursement applications into two segments: one for Sept. 25, when the storm hit, and one for Sept. 26-31, when aid was rendered and the clean-up began.

Duffy said the federal officials explained what municipalities could be reimbursed for, such as overtime pay for employees, as well as gas for vehicles.

“We could be reimbursed for driving to NYSEG to get dry ice and water, or for driving to Westchester County Airport to get meals and water,” he said. “You have to consider that our employees were taken away from their normal operations and what it cost to assist residents and damage assessment. Did it wash out a culvert? Were buildings damaged? Did we lose equipment?”

Duffy noted that the Goldens Bridge Fire Department incurred damage to one of its rescue trucks.

The town has already paid its employees for the overtime they worked during the storm, which will recouped from FEMA, and is now looking to reimburse volunteers who used private vehicles to help out.

Duffy said the town learned a lot from Irene, which will make it better prepared for future catastrophes.

“The glaring area for improvement is communications,” he said. “We learned that we need to improve our relationship with the radio stations to get the information out. When the wires went down, we lost our phones and our Internet, so we have to look at the old school methods of communication.”

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