FEMA Urged by Schumer, Gillibrand to Expedite Work in New York

The senators said the funding is available on a cost-sharing basis; FEMA generally covers 75 percent of eligible costs for permanent and emergency work. Eighteen counties were battered by recent flooding across the state.

by Observer Dispatch, Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y. / November 18, 2019

(TNS) — New York's two U.S. senators have urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency to exponentially complete Preliminary Damage Assessments for both public and individual assistance in the 18 counties that were battered by recent flooding.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand collectively submitted a letter to FEMA asking for a quick resolution on the public assistance requested for in Chautauqua, Chenango, Clinton, Cortland, Erie, Essex, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, Saratoga, Tioga and Warren counties, along with individual assistance in Erie, Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer and Oneida counties.

"Just two weeks ago, our state, from one corner to the other, saw severe damage after being ravaged by heavy rain, flooding and tempestuous winds," said Schumer. "It is absolutely critical that we get these communities the aid they need and the first step is for FEMA to prioritize this damage and to complete preliminary damage assessments immediately. This immense damage will total tens of millions of dollars in costs suffered and demands swift help from the feds to repair. FEMA needs to make these assessments the top priority in the nation and complete these PDAs as soon as humanly possible so that counties across the state can continue recovering and rebuilding."

After any severe storm, the first step in the federal disaster declaration process is for the state to request a PDA, during which FEMA representatives join state, local, and other officials to survey damage across storm-impacted counties to help determine whether the cost of the disaster meets the criteria for a federal disaster declaration, the senators said in a joint statement. If a disaster declaration is declared, grant assistance would be made available to state and local governments, as well as certain non-profit organizations, to reimburse costs incurred for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities.

The senators said the funding is available on a cost-sharing basis; FEMA generally covers 75 percent of the eligible costs for permanent and emergency work.

Below is the letter sent by Senators Schumer and Gillibrand:

Dear Acting Administrator:

We write to urge the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expeditiously complete New York State's Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) for both Public Assistance and Individual Assistance in 18 counties across New York State impacted by severe storms and flooding from October 31st through November 1st, 2019.

After a deadly storm crossed Upstate New York around Halloween, wet weather produced conditions that devastated a large swath of the state. The assessment requested by New York State would determine the qualifying damage for Public Assistance in Chautauqua, Chenango, Clinton, Cortland, Erie, Essex, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, Saratoga, Tioga and Warren Counties, as well as for Individual Assistance in Erie, Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer, and Oneida Counties. Areas in a dozen counties got at least 3 inches of rain, which is nearly a month's worth in most Upstate communities. These downpours brought high winds and caused widespread flooding into November 1st, leading the National Weather Service to issue high wind warnings, as well as flood warnings and flash flood warnings for 27 counties in Upstate New York. Tragically, a priest in Herkimer County was caught in his vehicle during one of these flash floods and was killed. With more than 240,000 buildings and homes without power at the peak, hundreds forced to evacuate and more than 50 roads closed, New York State deployed 200 members of the National Guard and New York Utilities were estimated to have had 5,000 workers engaged in damage assessment, response, and restoration efforts. Many homes and businesses in the Mohawk Valley remain uninhabitable, forcing residents to rely local assistance for shelter and food. As communities across Upstate New York continue their recovery from this unexpected and deadly storm, we urge FEMA to expeditiously complete New York State's PDAs in the 18 counties listed above.

We are grateful for the prompt attention that the federal government has historically give in responding to disaster impacting New York State. In that spirit, we strongly urge you to complete the state's Public Assistance and Individual Assistance PDAs in 18 counties across New York State.

Sincerely,

———

©2019 Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y.

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