State Senators are proposing a new grant program to give financial assistance to people, businesses and municipalities affected by flooding caused by high water levels on Lake Erie, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River this spring. The Great Lakes Flood Recovery Grant Program would make $55 million in state funding available.

The proposed program sets aside $20 million to be disbursed by Empire State Development Corporation to homeowners, farmers, businesses and not-for-profits. It would be used for flood-related damage not covered by insurance or already-existing state, local or federal programs.

Canandaigua Republican Pam Helming is the bill’s primary sponsor.

“Over the past month, I have witnessed the devastation caused by flooding in our lakeshore communities,” she said. “It has been heart wrenching watching property owners trying desperately to save their homes and to see small seasonal businesses that have been around for generations forced to close just before the start of their busy summer season. As someone who has been on-site and working with our first responders, residents, and officials to load sandbags and survey damage, I am proud of the efforts of all of those in our community who have stepped up to meet this challenge head on.”

The program also would provide $20 million – $1 million each – to counties for infrastructure repairs caused by the flooding, which could include fixing roads, bridges, storm sewers and levies. Another $10 million would be set aside for miscellaneous municipal costs that may not fit in that category.

Finally, counties would be eligible to apply for a $5 million grant pool to fund flood mitigation or flood control projects. A number of other Upstate Republicans have co-sponsored the bill.

“With damages to lake and bay shore communities adding-up and no relief from mother nature in sight, we must secure assistance for homeowners, businesses, and municipalities as soon as possible. There are factors involved in the flooding that we simply can’t control, but we can and should help by launching this program to deliver targeted aid to those who are impacted the most,” state Senator Rich Funke, R-Perinton, said.

The bill was referred to the Rules Committee earlier this week and does not currently have an Assembly sponsor.