Irene: National Grid helps cover flood-aid gaps
MONTGOMERY COUNTY In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, National Grid was one of the first to provide businesses with recovery funds.
Since then, it has continued helping local businesses, distributing roughly 50 grants averaging $25,000 from a $6 million Emergency Economic Development Fund.
“We felt that ratepayers would benefit from this,” said Joe Russo, National Grid economic developer. “When these disasters happen, communities are vulnerable to out-migration. There’s a downward spiral.”
National Grid targeted locals with the Emergency Main Street Revitalization Program, designed, as the name implies, to fund only businesses on main streets or major business corridors. Most of the grants have gone to Schoharie and Schenectady counties, as they were the hardest hit, but three businesses in Montgomery County will also receive funds.
Russo’s Bar and Grill on West Main Street in Amsterdam was first in the county to get National Grid funds, after applying for the grant last September. As there was significant flood damage to the restaurant, the $25,000 was only a part of its recovery.
Early this year, Amsterdam Overhead Door, also on West Main Street, which was set back an estimated $40,000 by the flood, began the grant process.
“We had flood water 3 feet high in our office. It took the furnace and the carpet, the computers and all of our files, everything,” said Clarence Mosher, vice president. “I tried to get help from FEMA but that didn’t do a lot of good. Then I was talking to Fred at Guernsey’s Nursery, and he told me about these grants. It was just a shot in the dark when I applied.”
Overhead Doors was paid only $11,600 by insurance for a faulty sump pump. It asked National Grid for $10,365.
“With the economy the way it is, and the flood on top of that, it was nip and tuck. This grant is a godsend,” Mosher said. “We’re very, very happy with National Grid.”
Cushing Stone Company on Route 5S is the most recent Montgomery business to seek National Grid funds, applying for the grant March 28.
The qualification for a Main Street Grant is pretty simple.
“You have to have been flooded out of your building,” Russo said, “and you have a funding gap, which everyone has.”
Applicants must go through their local industrial development agency, which sponsors the request to National Grid. Once the application is accepted, National Grid works with the business toward a solution.
“We sit down and see how much we can put in and how much they can put in,” Russo said. “Usually it costs us more than $25,000.”
As work progresses, the local IDA keeps track of spending and makes sure the money is used correctly, according to Montgomery County IDA Executive Director Ken Rose.
“We want to know from the local folks,” Russo said. “They’re closer to the recipients and do a better job qualifying their needs.”
National Grid will continue distributing grants through the end of the summer.
“If a business was hit by the flood, kept the receipts from what they’ve spent so far, and were not helped by insurance or a government agency, we can help,” Russo said.
For more information of National Grid grants visit www.shovelready.com/emergencyfunding.asp.