“We’re very excited to be back,” said Long Beach resident Jason Schatzberg, owner of Paninis & Bikinis, who is reopening his West End eatery in two weeks, almost eight months after Hurricane Sandy destroyed it. “I’m pretty much one of the last guys to reopen since the storm — economically, my life was shattered.”
Like many business owners, Schatzberg said he did not have flood insurance and could not afford to repair the damage on his own. He applied for a federal Small Business Administration loan, but was faced with red tape and a slow reimbursement process. Then he heard about a grant program administered by National Grid that was offering up to $250,000 in aid to eligible businesses.
In an effort to help victims of the storm, the utility launched the National Grid Hurricane Sandy Relief Program, which provides emergency funding to commercial, industrial and multi-family residential customers of the utility that were impacted.
At a press conference on Monday in front of the Saloon, a popular bar and restaurant in the West End, National Grid announced that 35 businesses in Long Beach, Atlantic Beach and Island Park had received $1.1 million in grants through a public-private partnership in order to rebuild in time for the summer.
“It’s amazing how everyone came together to help each other,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who was joined by officials from National Grid, the city, the county and the Chamber of Commerce. “What National Grid has done, they didn’t have to do. They did it because they care about the community.”
The utility said it was working with elected officials, the Chamber and other business organizations and local businesses to revitalize the area. “Today is about reopening your businesses in time for the summer, and we will be with you every step of the way,” said Ken Daly, president of National Grid New York. “You can count on our support during these challenging times …”
National Grid officials said that the average grant is $25,000, and that the agency began issuing the funds in February. To date, they said, it has donated $5.1 million to Long Island and New York City businesses.