As Hurricane Ida reached New York City, cars made their way through rising flood water on Leonard Street in Brooklyn, Sept. 1, 2021.Hiram Alejandro Durán/ THE CITTY

NYC - Flood Victims Could Get Fast Relief Under New Pilot Program THE CITY /

Lower-income households could see as much as $15,000 in emergency cash assistance after an extreme deluge.

A new pilot program aims to help New Yorkers from marginalized communities recover more quickly from flooding.

Run by the nonprofit groups Center for New York City Neighborhoods and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the program would provide up to $15,000 in emergency cash assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income homeowners following extreme, damaging rainfall.

The new program is designed, in part, to make up for lags in the payout process from private insurance or FEMA. After Hurricane Ida hit NYC in September 2021, for instance, it took weeks or longer for victims to receive any emergency funds, if they did at all. And when they did, the amount they got — about $2,500 on average — was often not enough to cover expenses, as THE CITY reported in 2021. Even filing a claim to FEMA or an insurance provider in the first place can be complicated, with extensive paperwork required to prove damage.

The pilot program application, on the other hand, requires more basic attestations instead — and households would receive payments within days of the disaster, according to the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. There are no limits on how households can use the money they receive.

“We’re thinking about this as an experimentation in a new way of providing emergency assistance to people that are currently left out of our disaster safety nets,” said Carolyn Kousky, associate vice president for economics and policy at EDF.

“We know that there are these gaps and that certain households really struggle in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, and our current programs aren’t working.”

Typically, individuals purchase insurance if they can afford it. In this case, the Center for NYC Neighborhoods bought a yearlong financial product — akin to, but not technically, insurance — tied to a triggering event, like a heavy storm.

After the next disaster, qualified New Yorkers can apply for the funds.

In partnership with the data analytics company ICEYE, the insurance firm Swiss Re Corporate Solutions will look at the intensity of the flood caused by the event — rather than the financial loss itself — to settle claims.

The company will determine the severity of the event within days and release funds to the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, which will work with community-based organizations to send the money to households.

In theory, such a program could have supported homeowners who struggled to get back on their feet after the deluge from Hurricane Ida.

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