September 18, 2014

After Gillibrand’s Push, FEMA Awards Jewish Community Council Of Greater Coney Island Nearly $500,000 In Disaster Funding

Senator Gillibrand Toured the Destruction in Coney Island and Pledged To Help Communities Recover

 Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island (JCCGCI) has been awarded $482,457.36 in federal funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Senator Gillibrand pledged to help JCCGCI after visiting Coney Island just days after their facilities were damaged by Superstorm Sandy. JCCGCI applied for FEMA funding to replace contents within two of its sites, and were awarded a small fraction of the funding. After submitting an appeal in 2013, Senator Gillibrand worked with JCCGCI and urged FEMA to approve the appeal. 

“This is great news for the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Superstorm Sandy tore through Coney Island and left the Council’s buildings completely destroyed and in dire need of repair. I want to thank FEMA for realizing how important this investment is for the Jewish Community Council and the Coney Island community. This funding is just what they need as they continue to rebuild.”

“Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island (JCCGCI)’s facilities were totally destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, leaving nothing intact other than the exterior walls and, inside, only sand,” said Rabbi Moshe Wiener, Executive Director, Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island, Inc. JCCGCI remains profoundly grateful to Senator Gillibrand and her staff for being both first responders after Superstorm Sandy (Senator Gillibrand accompanied the Secretary of Homeland Security on a walking tour of the devastation just days after the storm) and, particularly, for graciously providing ongoing support and assistance in their perseverance to secure approval of our appeal to FEMA after close to $588,339.70 in content replacement costs were rejected, leaving over fifty staff displaced for 18 months in cramped, makeshift, temporary locations while trying to maintain services to as much as 2,500 individuals in need each day.”

"We were very pleased to be able to assist the JCCGCI obtain these long-overdue funds from FEMA," said Yisroel Schulman, the President and Attorney-in-Charge of the New York Legal Assistance Group, whose attorneys helped with the appeal. "With these funds, the JCCGCI will continue its recovery from Sandy's devastation, which will allow it to carry on its important work of serving vulnerable members of the community. NYLAG will continue to assist the JCCCGI and the scores of other individuals and non-profit organizations who have been erroneously denied FEMA assistance, unfairly asked to repay FEMA benefits, or denied other critical recovery funds."

After Superstorm Sandy ravaged through the Coney Island area, only the outside structure of JCCGCI’s two main facilities was left standing. Three to six feet of water flooded the buildings leaving workstations, computers and kitchen equipment completely destroyed, an estimated $1.5 million in damage. JCCGCI’s staff members were forced to relocate to six temporary facilities, severely impacting their ability to provide services for the community. They applied for FEMA funding and were awarded $1,860.61 for the destroyed building’s contents. With the assistance of New York Legal Assistance Group, they appealed the decision in October 2013. Senator Gillibrand followed the status of the appeal and urged FEMA to respond to their request in a timely fashion. JCCGCI also awaited FEMA’s response in order to receive grant funding from New York City. Last week, FEMA awarded JCCGCI an additional $480,596.75 for a total of $482,457.36 in funding. The federal funding will help JCCGCI in their recovery efforts and will be used to purchase critical equipment and furniture.

The Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island is a community organization that has long served residents in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan since 1973. They provide afterschool enrichment programs and a range of support services for the elderly, immigrants, and underserved communities in order to help improve their quality of life.