Deadline Looming for Chelsea Bombing Grant Program
BY DENNIS LYNCH | Following the pressure cooker bombing that rocked Chelsea on Sept. 17 2016, many small businesses along the affected block (W. 23rd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) have filed their insurance claims and carried on — but some are still tying loose ends on claims for the thousands of dollars in damage caused by the explosion.
New York state started a disaster recovery fund, the Chelsea Bombing Grant Program, shortly after the blast to “provide assistance to businesses and property owners, residents and employees affected by the bombing” as compensation for losses not covered by “insurance or other sources.”
The deadline to apply (via dhses.ny.gov/recovery/chelsea) is Fri., March 31.
Chelsea Now recently visited some businesses on W. 23rd St. to see how owners handled, or how they are still handling, the process with the state and with their own insurance companies.
Many businesses were lucky enough not to sustain any physical damage from the explosion, but many of them did suffer economic losses that can be reimbursed through insurance (only one business on the block, Orangetheory Fitness, at 124 W. 23rd St., had private terrorism insurance). The police cordoned off the block of W. 23rd St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves. for two days, bringing business to a halt. A cashier at Garden of Eden Marketplace (162 W. 23rd St.) recalled being stopped by police on her way to work, and said that business was still slow in the days after the street reopened.
Pascal Goupil, owner of La Maison du Macaron (132 W. 23rd St.), said he was lucky that his business didn’t suffer any physical damage and that no one was hurt, but said he lost out on some business in the days following the attack and filed a claim to recoup those losses.
“Our insurance covered it, so there was no problem. We filed the claim and everything was taken care of,” he said, adding that he didn’t need to take advantage of the state program.
The state also helped business owners file their claims with their private insurers. A NY Department of Financial Services (DFS) spokesperson said there were “no issues to speak of” with private insurers that required the state to step in, and that all claims the state assisted with had been resolved (DFS did the assistance work, while the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services administered the state compensation fund).
King David Gallery (131 W. 23rd St.) was one business that asked for assistance filing a claim. Owner Daniel Peretz, who was out of the country at the time of this story’s publication, said he estimated his gallery saw $70,000–$80,000 in damage during a conversation in October. Peretz did not have terrorism insurance, but vowed to get it after the bombing. He expressed disbelief that a government terrorism damage reimbursement program didn’t exist until after the bombing outside his storefront.
The owner of Landmark Wine & Spirits (167 W. 23rd St.) received some paperwork recently, according to employee Binod Bhattarai, who also spoke with Chelsea Now during the Sept. 24 small business crawl organized to attract people back onto the block shortly after the attack.
“Only the people working here were affected; I was here,” Bhattarai said. “It was quiet after but its better now.”
The Sept. 17 bombing injured over 30 people in the area. It was one of four intended bombings allegedly perpetrated by Ahmad Khan Rahimi, a Afghani New Jersey man who authorities said was inspired by Islamist extremist groups including the so-called Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda.
Rahimi faces life in prison on eight counts for his bombing spree, which ended in a shootout with police. His lawyers most recently secured a delay in his trail, initially set to start on March 27 and now moved to Oct. 2.
The blast on W. 23rd St. was strong enough to throw the dumpster in which Rahimi placed his pressure-cooker bomb more than 120 feet and blow out windows 400 feet away.