The federal government has approved the state's plan for spending $1.7 billion in funds to help communities rebuild from Superstorm Sandy.
New York City is covered by a separate plan that officials say was submitted this week and will be approved soon.
Congress approved a plan setting aside $50.5 billion in Sandy relief for all impacted states. New York is expected to get around $30 billion of those funds eventually.
The state's plan provides block grant funds that are designed to be more flexible than other FEMA loans and insurance plans. "We got to communities and we say, 'You tell us what you need to restore your community,'" Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference earlier today announcing the federal government's approval of the state plan.
He was joined at the press conference by Shaun Donovan, the secretaroy of Housing and Urban Development, and Sen. Chuck Schumer.
In contrast to other FEMA programs, Schumer said the block grants can be used for mold remediation and are available to coops and condos.
He said the state's plan will also reimburse home and business owners who used their own money to rebuild, adding that the city's plan "originally" excluded such a measure. But Schumer said he spoke to Mayor Michael Bloomberg about changing that.
The state plan allows communities affected by hurricanes Irene and Lee to apply for funds and creates a system where communities can design their own projects and pitch them to the state. Community reconstruction zones will be eligible for $3 to $25 million, depending on a ratio of damage to population. This includes New York City communities.
"We simply cannot ignore the damage that extreme weather is doing to families around this state and country. That is why we must take this opportunity to rebuild smarter and stronger," Donovan said, pointing out that HUD will require homes and businesses to build to higher standards to anticipate future storms.
Cuomo described the community reconstruction zones as a "bottom-up approach," and detailed that the top-down approach will include the state using federal money to address infrastructure issues through state authorities like the MTA. "There was no more difficult moment than dealing with Sandy as a government official," Cuomo said. "For those of us who believe in government there is no truer test."
Here is a list of NYC reconstruction zones and how much they are eligible for:
Belle Harbor, Neponsit, Breezy Point, Roxbury
Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, Seagate
Far Rockaway, Rockaway
Gerriston Beach, Sheepshead Bay
New Howard Beach, Old Howard Beach
Staten Island (East Shore, South Shore)