FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 29, 2005
Schumer Calls On Feds To Help Dutchess And Orange Counties Get Federal Disaster Relief Assistance
Cleanup After Floods Will Cost Counties Millions Of Dollars
Schumer Pushed State To Declare Disaster To Qualify The Area For Federal Disaster Relief, Now Urges Feds To Approve NYS Application
In the wake of October’s severe flooding in Dutchess and Orange Counties, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to declare those counties as a major federal disaster area. There were heavy rainstorms in early October, and Dutchess and Orange Counties sustained serious damage to homes and public infrastructure. On October 18, Schumer urged Governor George Pataki to formally ask FEMA for emergency assistance to help them recover from the rainstorms, and on November 23, Pataki made the declaration.
“This is the next step in getting the aid needed for the local governments in the Hudson Valley,” Schumer said. “Communities are facing extensive repair costs, and without disaster relief help from the state and federal government, it’s going to be much tougher to fix all of the damage. No one can account for natural disasters, and these local governments deserve help. When you talk with people affected by this storm, it becomes obvious very quickly that the State and the Feds should both be chipping in to deal with this disaster.”
The region was slammed by a severe weather system in early October, and according to the National Weather Service, over a foot of rain fell over an eight-day period throughout the state. As floodwater rose, inundated drainage systems caused sewage to overflow. Storm runoff damaged homes and forced the temporary closure roads in the towns of Montgomery, Warwick, Hamptonburgh, Union Vale, Washington and others in the region. The Wallkill Bridge was closed due to high waters of the Walkill River. The Black Dirt region farms in Orange County have reported devastating flooding as well. These mid-Hudson Valley counties face extensive repair and restoration costs for repairs to their homes, roads and infrastructure damaged in these rainstorms.
In a letter to R. David Paulison, Acting Director of FEMA, Schumer wrote “Not only do I urge you to quickly assess the damage and declare these… counties Federal disaster areas, but if other New York counties are added to this request, I also ask that you grant Federal disaster assistance to them as well. Stretched by already tight budgets, these communities simply cannot bear the extra burden placed upon them by the costs of these severe weather systems. Without FEMA’s help, the ability of these local governments to deliver the essential services their citizens depend on could be greatly diminished. ”
At Schumer’s urging, the State declared the region a disaster area, which is a prerequisite for obtaining FEMA funds. After submitting an application for federal funds, FEMA will determine if the area is eligible for funds and how much relief it will get.