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Landlords denied reimbursement; Want answers

By JOLEEN FERRIS

MOHAWK, N.Y. (WKTV) - The flood waters have long receded, but some Herkimer County landlords say they still feel alone, adrift and abandoned by New York State.

The Wiers family gutted their savings account to the tune of $31,000 to pay for flood damage to their Columbia Circle home in Mohawk. After FEMA declared that they would not be offering financial assistance to individuals, they looked to New York State for help.

"So now they're telling us because we're not primary residents, we do rent the house out, we're not going to get anything. We won't get a dime from the state," says Barbara Wiers.

Wiers says she and her husband have tried various routes, all ending with roadblocks.

"They won't let us be small business owners. We have a DBA but they won't let us do it under small business. We just want some answers," says Wiers.

The Jaquishes, who own Creekside Mobile Home Park in Mohawk, lost all seven units to the Flood of 2013. They're in the same boat as the Wiers.

"So we called to see what the story was and they said no you're not covered because you're a landlord. It didn't matter if you were a small business. I mean, we ARE a business," says Virginia Jaquish. "Why just because we own them and not live in them, why do we not qualify for any assistance?"

"You're identifying what appears to be a big glitch in the program," says Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, who has spoken with the Herkimer County landlords.

"Say you have a 10 room apartment complex and you live in one of your ten apartments, you'll get reimbursed, but the guy down the street doesn't," says Tenney, pointing out what she feels is a glaring inequity.

The assemblywoman has also spoken with other state officials involved in administering the state's financial assistance to flood victims.

"They know the problem is there and we're trying to find a solution to it, so to me, it really is unfair and it's the ultimate inequity," says Tenney.

Tenney's advice to landlords is to keep applying for state assistance.

Wiers' plan is to warn other landlords who think they're going to get state assistance.

"A gentleman that I know from France said, 'by now, we would be taking to the streets.' Well maybe we should, maybe we should because this is a very serious issue" .

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