Ontario County Homeowner Grapples with Flood Aid Application: A Tale of Frustration
Canandaigua, N.Y. – In the wake of last month’s devastating floods, Ontario County homeowners are finding it challenging to navigate the complex application process for state-sponsored financial relief. Governor Kathy Hochul pledged up to $3 million in emergency repair grants, intended to assist low and moderate-income homeowners across eight affected counties, including Ontario.
Tamie Genest, a Canandaigua homeowner, provides a case in point. Her basement was submerged under more than five feet of water, causing extensive structural damage. Genest’s woes didn’t end there; several of her outdoor barns were also severely waterlogged.
“While flood insurance came to our rescue, it was a limited lifeline,” said Genest. “The insurance only covers one outbuilding. So, we had to choose which barn to claim. We chose the larger barn, leaving the smaller barn and the garage unprotected. The result? A total loss of everything stored in those two structures.”
In response to questions, the Governor’s office revealed that they’ve received 105 applications for relief grants from homeowners in the eight eligible counties. But according to Genest, who recently completed the 33-page application form, the requirements are not just tedious but also unfairly limiting.
“The form overlooks several real-world expenses, like student loans, that most people have,” Genest pointed out. “These expenses aren’t included in the application’s criteria, making it difficult for families to prove their eligibility.”
Furthermore, Genest criticized the application for its failure to mention reimbursement options for immediate, necessary repairs, forcing homeowners like her to shoulder the burden in the meantime.
“To reinstate our electrical panel, hot water tank, and furnace, we had to pay out of pocket. The current guidelines don’t allow us to claim these as eligible expenditures for reimbursement,” she said. “Who can afford to go three months without utilities? It’s unreasonable. There should be a mechanism for people taking out loans or tapping into savings to get their essential services restored to be reimbursed.”
As Genest and her family await a response from the state, they have no choice but to continue the arduous task of cleaning up, unsure if help will ever come. The situation underscores the need for streamlined and more inclusive application processes, especially when quick relief is crucial for disaster-stricken communities.