Schumer, Gillibrand Urge President Obama To Approve Flood Aid

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand urged President Barack Obama to swiftly approve New York State’s request for federal support in light of the severe flooding in communities across upstate New York. Specifically, Schumer and Gillibrand are requesting swift approval of a Major Disaster Declaration for the impacted counties that include Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Delaware, Herkimer, Lewis, Livingston, Ontario, Otsego, Steuben and Yates Counties. Back-to-back severe storms last month caused significant flooding, forcing residents to evacuate their homes, destroyed personal property, and damaged critical infrastructure such as roads, culverts, and power lines. The cost of damage currently totals approximately $28.2 million. Senators urged the President to take immediate action to work with the affected counties and the New York State to quickly approve this declaration.

“Eleven counties in Upstate New York have been devastated by severe flooding in the last month, and it is high time we get those counties the FEMA disaster declaration they need to help residents and businesses recover,” said Senator Schumer. “It is important the federal government step up to the plate and swiftly approve the request for this designation, as it will provide these localities the funds and resources they need to recoup the cost of the damages to their communities, roads, power lines and other critical infrastructure.”

“Severe flooding has damaged critical infrastructure and flooded homes and businesses throughout communities across Upstate,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The cost of the public damage to rural counties is overwhelming which is why federal assistance is so important.  I will continue to work to ensure that all possible resources are brought to bear to ensure a full recovery for all of our impacted communities.”

Severe storms, which occurred on May 13th and again on May 15-16, caused extreme flooding and extensive damage to public and private property across New York communities.  On May 14th, New York State declared a State Disaster Emergency for various counties, and certain municipalities were also declared local states of emergency. The storm impacted over 150 homes and dozens of businesses.  Flooding throughout Yates, Ontario and Livingston counties devastated homeowners, local businesses, farms, and critical infrastructure. In fact, Schumer and Gillibrand announced last week that Yates County met the threshold for SBA low-interest disaster loans because the severe flooding caused physical damage to 25 homes and business structures in excess of 40% of the uninsured value. Farms were completely inundated for days, roads were closed, power lines knocked down, and highways were closed and thoroughly damaged. Sink holes opened up on area roads on properties and hundreds of vehicles and several commercial buildings collapsed or were washed away. With costs mounting for local municipalities, Senators called for swift action to release much needed resources so that rebuilding efforts can begin.

Full text of Senators’ letter to President Obama and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is below:

Dear Mr. President,

We write today in strong support of New York State’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration as a result of severe storms that caused major flooding, impacting many communities across upstate New York.  We urge you to take immediate action to work with the affected counties and the State of New York to quickly approve this declaration.

Back-to-back severe storms, which occurred on May 13, 2014 and again on May 15-16 caused extreme flooding and extensive damage to public and private property across Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Delaware, Herkimer, Lewis, Livingston, Ontario, Otsego, Steuben and Yates Counties in New York.  Significant flooding caused by several inches of rain during a short time frame forced many residents to evacuate from their homes in the middle of the night, destroyed countless amounts of personal property, and rendered critical infrastructure such as roads, culverts, and power lines significantly damaged or inoperable. The additional powerful bursts of rain from another storm falling in already saturated areas swelled creeks and caused additional flooding.   

On May 14, 2014 New York State declared a State Disaster Emergency for various counties, and certain municipalities were also declared local states of emergency because of the storm’s severity. The storm, which impacted over 150 homes and dozens of businesses destroyed a substantial amount of personal property.  Flooding through several counties and in particular Yates, Ontario and Livingston counties devastated homeowners, local businesses, farms, and critical infrastructure.  Farms were completely inundated for days, roads were closed, power lines knocked down, and highways were closed and thoroughly damaged. Sink holes opened up on area roads on properties and hundreds of vehicles and several commercial buildings collapsed or were washed away.

As requested in previous letters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with New York State agencies, responded to the storms quickly, performing damage assessments across the affected areas.  To date, the Preliminary Damage Assessment for the total cost of damage is greater than $28.2 million.  This includes debris removal, emergency response and infrastructure damage.  This amount exceeds the State threshold established in 44CFR.  With costs mounting for local municipalities, action must be taken swiftly to release much needed resources so that rebuilding efforts can begin.

As you are aware, New York State has yet to fully recover from Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and Superstorm Sandy, and federal assistance through the Stafford Act is necessary to fully recover from the losses experienced in last month’s storms and preserve safety of our citizens and infrastructure against future disasters. We are grateful for the prompt attention that you and the entire federal government have given to quickly responding to disasters impacting New York State, and for your commitment to cutting bureaucratic red-tape so that assistance can be provided as quickly and efficiently as possible. In that spirit, we strongly urge you to approve the State’s request.

FINGER LAKES DAILY NEWS TEAM COVERAGE OF MAY 2014 FLOODS

 

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