FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 27, 2007
With More Floods Potentially On The Way, Schumer Demands FEMA Approve Much Needed Public Assistance To Help Local Governments Foot The Bill For The Massive Clean Up
Schumer Personally Calls FEMA Director
Schumer: Aid Needs to Flow Quickly to Help These Communities Recover
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today demanded President R. David Paulison, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to immediately approve aid for local governments to help pay for the massive clean up effort. Today, Schumer personally spoke to Paulison and relayed the concerns of many Hudson Valley Mayors and emergency officials who warned the clean up could break the bank. Last week, Governor Eliot Spitzer requested aid for 12 counties and New York City, however FEMA only awarded individual assistance for three counties and hazard mitigation assistance, to protect against future floods, to New York State.
"It is not acceptable that local governments and emergency officials that need the federal government's help were left off the list," Schumer said. "These floods could break the bank for communities across the Hudson Valley. I will pressure FEMA to give these communities aid they need and deserve. I traveled through flooded regions last week, and these communities need federal dollars now." Schumer said that while the aid for individuals is appreciated, local governments will incur enormous costs to clean up after the freak nor'easter. During his conversation with Paulison, Schumer specifically asked that FEMA approve public assistance for local governments to help defray the rising costs.
Early estimates of damage to public facilities total over $40 million. Most counties are still completing damage assessments. Westchester County estimates damage totals over $10 million, Rockland County $4 million, Suffolk $26 million, Orange over $1 million, Albany County $2.5 million, Green County $1 million, and Columbia County over $1.5 million. Heavy rains forecast for today may make matters worse. There are floods watches for Westchester, Orange, Rockland, Putnam, and the five boroughs.
Through the Public Assistance Program, FEMA provides supplemental Federal disaster grant assistance for the repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly owned facilities and the facilities of certain Private Non-Profit (PNP) organizations. For approved projects, FEMA obligates 75% of the costs and a non-federal partner covers the remaining 25%. The nor'easter inundated parts of New York with well over 7 inches of rain, breaking the former record by more than 6 inches. Communities throughout the region have sustained millions of dollars in damage. Individuals have lost worthy possessions and businesses are struggling. Schumer said those in the community are doing everything they can to recover quickly; but, the costs involved are simply too great to handle alone.
Yesterday, Schumer sent a letter to Paulison asking him to approve aid for the counties that were not included in the initial federal disaster declaration.