Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Friday joined other state lawmakers, local officials and Wyoming Valley residents to mark the 5th anniversary of the 2011 flood recovery efforts that began in the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Lee on communities from West Pittston to Shickshinny.
“From the depths of that devastation and the despair of that moment, I am proud of how the Wyoming Valley rallied and how local leaders pulled together to get this region back on its feet,” said Sen. Yudichak.
The flooding in the fall of 2011 left forty-six businesses and one hundred eighty-four homes completely destroyed in Luzerne County, while another eight hundred homes and business suffered major damages.
President Barack Obama signed an emergency disaster proclamation and directed FEMA and its state counterpart, PEMA, to get assistance to homeowners in the path of the flood. While homeowners were soon getting some flood mitigation assistance, small business owners impacted by the flood found that few if any federal or state programs would help them rebuild.
“Working with Commonwealth Finance Agency, the entire Luzerne County State Delegation and with both Chambers of Commerce in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre – we developed the Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program to assist flood impacted business with quick access to a new $4 million loan program that offered loans of $100,000 per business at a 1 percent interest rate,” said Sen. Yudichak.
The Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program, administered by the MetroAction organization, aided twenty-two businesses with $1.6 million in assistance that helped them rebuild and preserve over two hundred family sustaining jobs.
Recognizing the value of a job creating investment tool in Luzerne County, a county that struggles with higher than state average unemployment, the Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program is now a permanent resources for our economic development partners to foster entrepreneurship and spur the creation of family owned small businesses.
In the past two years, the Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program has invested an additional $1.7 million in thirty-three businesses that have created or retained over two hundred jobs in Luzerne County.
“The credit for the Luzerne County Small Business Loan Program’s early success goes to business owners, like Mike LaNunziata of Crest Cleaners, who demonstrated that not hell or high water is going to keep them from rebuilding their businesses and the communities they call home,” said Sen. Yudichak.
“As we mark the five-year anniversary of the devastating floods of September 2011, MetroAction celebrates the success of the Luzerne County Flood Recovery Program,” said Robert F. Durkin, President of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce and Secretary of MetroAction. “Nearly $3.5 million worth of capital has been deployed to small businesses in our region. Not only did the loan fund assist businesses with rebuilding after the disaster, in many cases the fund has allowed businesses to expand and thrive.”Joining Sen. Yudichak and Durkin at the ceremony were: Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, (D-Luzerne); Joseph Boylan, Vice President, Economic Development, Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry; and Mike La Nunziata, owner of Crest Quality Cleaners in West Pittston.