Pols Question FEMA on Knickerbocker

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Last week the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared that residents of Knickerbocker Village, a privately-run housing complex on the Lower East Side that was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, would be ineligible to receive reimbursement from the agency for expenses they incurred as a result of the storm damage.

Local elected officials, Senator Dan Squadron, Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Council Member Margaret Chin, sent a letter to FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate to address their concerns and express their surprise that the residents of the complex won't be entitled to the federal assistance they assumed would be due to them.

The trio wrote that the damage caused by Sandy to the apartment complex e was significant enough for FEMA to grant the residents' requests for reimbursement.

"After Sandy hit, all essential services at Knickerbocker, including electricity, heat, running water, and elevators were knocked out for several weeks due to damaged equipment in the complex's basement," the letter said in part. "Many residents were forced to stay in hotels because of the uninhabitable conditions in their apartments."

They went on to note that in numerous meetings and a public forum, FEMA representatives informed Knickerbocker residents that they were eligible for reimbursement in terms of their hotel expenses, but since then the agency has rejected the claims made by the residents.

"We believe that these residents are in fact eligible under the guidelines that FEMA laid out and we ask that you re-evaluate all rejected claims from Knickerbocker Village," they wrote. "Some residents are also seeking reimbursement for property damage and medical expenses and we urge you to review those claims as well."

The community can now only wait for FEMA to re-evaluate their previous decisions on the applications.

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