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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2008

GOVERNOR PATERSON, SENATOR SCHUMER URGE PRESIDENT, FEMA TO ISSUE EMERGENCY DECLARATION TO EXPEDITE FEDERAL AID


Emergency Declaration Would Bring Up To $5 Million In Federal Assistance to 16 Counties in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley Hit By the Storm

Paterson and Schumer: Aid Needs to Flow Quickly to Help Communities and Local Governments Already Reeling from the Economic Downturn

Governor David A. Paterson and Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged President George W. Bush and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director R. David Paulison to issue an Emergency Declaration and to expedite federal aid for Upstate New York counties hit by the storm. Last week, the Governor declared a State of Emergency for the affected counties, to expedite service and aid.
 
Governor Paterson and Sen. Schumer toured Niskayuna, where over 95 percent of residents were initially without power and 50 percent of residents remain without power today, to see first-hand the damages of Friday’s ice storm. The intense ice storm left over 300,000 homes and businesses without power and has severely damaged power lines, trees and property across the region.
 
In an effort to help local communities swiftly repair the damages, the Governor today pushed for an immediate emergency declaration by President George W. Bush, which would bring up to $5 million to the region.
 
“Friday’s storm hit the Capital Region and Hudson Valley with great force, knocking down power lines and trees, and damaging property. This area needs federal assistance and it needs it fast. I will do everything in my power to get an emergency declaration for New York State so that aid can flow quickly to help our communities thaw out from the storm,” Schumer said.
 
"New Yorkers are still recovering from last week’s damaging ice storm, which hit homeowners and local governments hard as they struggle to repair homes, businesses and critical infrastructure," said Governor David A. Paterson." New York’s communities responded heroically, but they cannot recover without federal assistance. I urge the President and FEMA to issue an Emergency Declaration for this area to expedite much-needed aid.”
 
According to National Grid, over 229,000 customers were hit with power outages. As of Sunday night, 52 percent of residents had their power restored, with 110,000 residents still without power. 
  
Recognizing the urgency and extent of the damage, Governor Paterson and Sen. Schumer called for an immediate emergency declaration from President George W. Bush for the 16 counties hit by the storm, including Albany, Chenango, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, and Washington Counties.
 
An emergency declaration by President George W. Bush could include several different types of assistance, including:
 
    * FEMA will direct other federal agencies and provide 75 percent federal funding for emergency measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health, limited to this direct federal assistance.
    * Up to $5 million in federal assistance from FEMA.
 
In a letter to President Bush and FEMA Administrator Paulison, Schumer wrote, “As a result of the same winter storm, an emergency declaration was announced for regions within the State of New Hampshire and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Now, as local government officials and residents of the afflicted New York counties are forced to respond to the storm's enormous damages, we must ensure that every possible federal resource is made swiftly available to those in danger and need.” 
 
In a letter to President Bush and FEMA Administrator Paulison, the Governor wrote: “This event resulted in the activation of state and local emergency forces, opening of dozens of shelters supporting hundreds of displaced families as well the provision of supplemental state assistance.  This ice storm has severely strained state and local resources already reeling from the combination of recovering from devastating non-declared summer storms and loss of revenue from the economic crisis… I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.  I am specifically requesting assistance to support extraordinary actions for the State and affected municipalities required to maintain public health and safety.  ”
 
 
See below for a full copy of both letters:
 
Dear President Bush and Administrator Paulison:
 
I write today to urge expeditious approval of New York State’s request that Albany, Chenango, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster, and Washington Counties receive an Emergency Disaster Declaration. With the public safety at stake, this declaration will allow federal aid to immediately supplement state and local response efforts.
 
On December 11th, a disastrous ice storm hit the Northeast, including several counties in throughout New York.  Reports now indicate that the worst ice storm in over twenty years to hit New York's Capital Region has led to the tragic loss of two lives and has left widespread destruction and property damage in its wake. At the height of the storm, more than 300,000 New York homes and businesses were without power. In addition, the Red Cross has set up emergency shelters and aided with the distribution of food and ice to support storm victims. With temperatures well below freezing and, as of Sunday night, over a hundred thousand homes still without heat and power, the federal government must act now to aid the state and local response.
 
As a result of the same winter storm, an emergency declaration was announced for regions within the State of New Hampshire and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Now, as local government officials and residents of the afflicted New York counties are forced to respond to the storm's enormous damages, we must ensure that every possible federal resource is made swiftly available to those in danger and need.
 
I therefore urge you to assist the State and affected counties in every way possible so they may quickly recover from this disaster. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter. 
                                                            Sincerely, 
 
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
 
 
 
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
Under the provisions of Section 501 (a) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5206 (Stafford Act), and implemented by 44 CFR § 206.35, I request that you declare an emergency for the State of New York as a result of a severe ice storm beginning December 11, 2008 and continuing.  I am requesting this emergency for the severely impacted counties of Albany, Chenango, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster and Washington.  Ice accumulations of over one inch toppled trees, limbs and power lines, cutting power to over 300,000 as temperatures plummeted into the single digits throughout the state.  Vital local transportation and public safety systems were severely disrupted.  This event resulted in the activation of state and local emergency forces, opening of dozens of shelters supporting hundreds of displaced families as well the provision of supplemental state assistance.  This ice storm has severely strained state and local resources already reeling from the combination of recovering from devastating non-declared summer storms and loss of revenue from the economic crisis. 
 
 
In response to the situation I have taken appropriate action under State law and directed the execution of the State Emergency Plan on December 11, 2008in accordance with Section 501 (a) of the Stafford Act.  On December 12, 2008 I issued a State Emergency Declaration for Albany, Chenango, Columbia, Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster and Washington and contiguous areas, and directed the State Emergency Management Office, the Department of Transportation, the Division of State Police, the Department of Health, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and other State agencies as necessary to take appropriate action to protect state property, assist those affected local governments in responding to and recovering from this event, and to protect public health and safety.  In order to coordinate a State response to this snowstorm, I dispatched personnel from the State Emergency Management Office and Department of Transportation to local emergency operation centers in the affected area.  On December 11, 2008, I directed the activation of the State EOC to support the efforts of local government state wide in their response to this deadly ice storm.  As a result of this event, local chief executives declared local States of Emergency and issued Emergency Orders.
 
 
Pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.35, I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments, and that supplementary Federal assistance is necessary to save lives, protect property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a disaster.  I am specifically requesting assistance to support extraordinary actions for the State and affected municipalities required to maintain public health and safety.  Further I request that should eligible expenses exceed the $5 million cap associated with Emergency Assistance that necessary provisions be made to request additional funds from the Congress, as provided for in 44 CFR 206.66 and 206.67.
               
 
 
The following information is furnished on the nature and amount of State and local resources that have been or will be used to alleviate the conditions of this emergency:
 
  • Implementation of the Transportation Infrastructure Group response plan;
 
  • Department of Transportation deployed 1,200 personnel and 750 pieces of heavy equipment;
 
  • State Police support to county EOC and traffic control on local roads; and
 
  • State Emergency Management Office EOC activation, technical assistance and direct support to local EOCs, deployment of resources (generators) from the State emergency stockpile.      
 
 
I certify that for this emergency, the State and local governments will assume all applicable non-Federal shares of costs required by the Stafford Act.[1]
In accordance with 44 CFR § 206.208, the State of New Yorkagrees that it will, with respect to direct Federal assistance:
 
1.       Provide without cost to the United States all lands, easement, and rights-of-ways necessary to accomplish the approved work.
 
2.       Hold and save the United States free from damages due to the requested work, and shall indemnify the Federal Government against any claims arising from such work;
 
3.       Provide reimbursement to FEMA for the non-Federal share of the cost of such work in accordance with the provisions of the FEMA-State Agreement; and
 
4.       Assist the performing Federal agency in all support and local jurisdictional matters.
 
In addition, I anticipate the need for debris removal, which poses an immediate threat to lives, public health, and safety.
 
Pursuant to Sections 502 and 407 of the Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5192 & 5173, the State agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the United States of America for any claims arising from the removal of debris or wreckage for this disaster.  The State agrees that debris removal from public and private property will not occur until the landowner signs an unconditional authorization for the removal of debris.
 
 
I have designated John R. Gibb as the State Coordinating Officer for this request.  He will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in damage assessments and may provide further information or justification on my behalf.
 
                                                                                Sincerely,
 
                                                                                David A. Paterson
                                                                                Governor
 
 
 

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