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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 18, 2008

SCHUMER RATCHETS UP THE PRESSURE ON FEMA TO ISSUE EMERGENCY DECLARATION, EXPEDITE FEDERAL AID - MAKES SECOND PERSONAL CALL TO FEMA


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

But FEMA Has Yet to Issue an Emergency Declaration Almost a Week After the Storm Hits

Schumer Places Second Personal Call to FEMA Administrator Paulison In An Effort To Get Aid Flowing Quickly to Capital Region and Hudson Valley Communities

With the Federal Emergency Management Agency continuing to stall on issuing an emergency declaration for the ice storm damage in the Capital Region and Hudson Valley, Senator Charles E. Schumer today ratcheted up the pressure on the agency in a second personal phone call to FEMA Director R. David Paulison. Schumer said it was high time to issue an Emergency Declaration and expedite federal aid for Upstate New York counties hit by the storm.

 

“There is no time to dawdle – thousands are still without power, knocked over trees are lying in front yards and property remains damaged. We have to help our communities and small businesses recover from this devastating ice storm. This area needs immediate federal assistance, and I will fight to the end to make sure that happens,” Schumer said.

 

 On Monday, Senator Schumer and Governor Paterson toured Niskayuna, where over 95 percent of residents were initially without power and 50 percent of residents remain without power that day, 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. According to National Grid, over 229,000 customers were hit with power outages due to the storm.

 

An estimated 600 people are still without power one week after the storm, and municipalities across the sixteen counties are struggling to clean up the downed trees and limbs. Additionally, a major winter storm is forecasted for the region tomorrow.

 

In an effort to help local communities swiftly repair the damages, Schumer today renewed his push for an immediate federal emergency declaration, which would bring up to $5 million to the region. The funding would go to the16 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 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.

 

On Monday, Schumer wrote a letter to President Bush and FEMA Administrator Paulison, writing, “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 today’s call, Schumer pushed FEMA Administrator to swiftly bring funding to the region as thousands of homeowners and hundreds of small businesses struggle to recuperate from the damaging storm.

 

See below for a full copy of Monday’s letter.

 

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

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