FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 24, 2007
Schumer: Red Tape Stalling Millions in Disaster Funds For Suffolk County Long After April Nor'easter Hit, Leaving Local Taxpayers Holding The Bag
With Feds Yet to Disburse Over $20 Million in Disaster Funds After Severe Damage Sustained During April Nor'easter, Schumer Demands Immediate Action
More than Five Months Later, Funding Inexplicably Held up by Unexplained Inter-Agency Delay and Bureaucratic Bungling
Schumer Urges FEMA, Fish and Wildlife to Cut Red Tape, Send Remaining Funds to Suffolk to Aid R
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to cut the red tape and immediately send the remainder of the nearly $22 million in federal disaster aid owed to Suffolk following this year’s destructive April Nor’easter. While federal disaster funds generally take about thirty days to be disbursed once FEMA, SEMO and local officials finish calculating the damage total, much of the $22 million owed Suffolk has not been released more than sixty days after the assessment. Since Suffolk County reports that the delay appears to hinge on unknown delays between FEMA and USFWS, Schumer pushed both agencies to work together to resolve the situation.
“Long Island’s beaches, homes, businesses and roads were blasted by April’s devastating Nor’easter, and it is imperative that the federal government take immediate action to meet its responsibility in helping these communities get back on their feet,” Schumer said. “While I am pleased that FEMA responded to me initial request and set aside $22 million for the damage caused in Suffolk, the funding will do little good until it is in the hands of those repairing and rebuilding from the storm’s damage.”
After the April Nor’easter, FEMA sent a team at Schumer’s request to Suffolk County to assess the storm’s damage. After inspecting each site, FEMA concluded there was approximately $22 million in damage representing over 100 projects. While funding is generally released within thirty days of such an assessment, Suffolk County has been waiting well over sixty days to receive much of its funding. In his letter today to FEMA and USFWS, Schumer urged the agencies to work together to expedite the release of funds to Suffolk so that local officials can continue the recovery process.
The April Nor’easter is estimated to have caused $22 million in damage throughout Suffolk County, impacting beaches, dunes, homes, businesses, roads, and infrastructure. Many of Long Island’s beaches suffered severe erosion, homes and businesses suffered from localized flooding, a road at Orient State Park partially collapsed, and homes on Fire Island were destabilized after high tides washed away the sand beneath them. Rain totals ranged from 1.5 inches to close to 4 inches. Across Long Island, almost 18,500 LIPA customers experienced power outages.
Since the Nor’easter, Schumer has aggressively advocated for a federal disaster declaration and the prompt release of funds, including multiple letters and a phone call to FEMA urging immediate approval.