FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 4, 2012
AT SCHUMER’S URGING, FEMA WILL FUND REPLACEMENT AND RELOCATION OF WELLSBURG FIRE STATION OUT OF FLOOD PLAIN – UNTIL NOW, FEMA DELAYED EFFORT TO MOVE FIRE HOUSE THAT WAS SEVERELY DAMAGED IN TROPICAL STORM LEE
Schumer Announces FEMA Admin. Fugate to Fund Relocation of Fire Station in Wellsburg—Original FEMA
Team Dedicated Appropriate Time to Damage Assessment & Results Supported Relocation of Fire
Today’s Decision Reverses Ruling by FEMA’s Secondary Damage Assessment Team that Concluded The Fire Station Did Not Meet Relocation Requirements –Station Will Now Move From Flood Plain, Where It Has Flooded Repeatedly, To Safe and Effective Location
Schumer: Residents & Public Safety Officials of Wellsburg Can Rest Assured Fire Station Replacement and Relocation Will Be Funded
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that at his urging, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will help fund the replacement and relocation of the fire station in Wellsburg, which was severely damaged by Tropical Storm Lee and previously was found to be ineligible for FEMA relocation assistance. In May, Schumer hosted a meeting in his Washington D.C. office with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to urge that FEMA step up to the plate and utilize the original FEMA assessments that would allow the flood-ridden fire station at Wellsburg to be relocated. The station is in a 100-year floodplain and has previously flooded five times. Following last fall’s storms, a FEMA team spent three months working hand in hand with the County and the Village of Wellsburg in order to assess damage and repair costs, which resulted in the conclusion that repairs exceeded the 50% replacement rule needed to build a new facility outside the floodplain.
Schumer highlighted to Fugate that following the original FEMA team’s damage assessment, a Building Assessment Team (BAT) was assigned and investigated the damage at the fire station for only three hours before reaching its conclusion. The BAT team reduced the damage estimates to 49.8%, just under the 50% replacement threshold. Because of the reduction made by the BAT team the fire station at Wellsburg was no longer considered eligible to relocate to a safe location. Today’s news means that FEMA has heeded Schumer’s call and will prioritize Chemung County’s project and allow the fire station to relocate to a safe location.
“I am pleased that FEMA has stepped up to the plate and removed the major roadblocks in the way of Chemung County’s recovery efforts from Tropical Storm Lee,” said Schumer. “In my meeting last month with FEMA Administrator Fugate in Washington, I urged him to help make sense of the situation in Chemung County, in which the original FEMA team’s damage assessment gave the county a green light on the critical relocation of the fire station at Wellsburg, while the BAT team stopped that recovery project before it could begin. Today’s announcement means that FEMA has heeded that call, and residents and public safety officials of Wellsburg can rest assured that the relocation and replacement of their firehouse will be funded by FEMA. After disaster strikes, it’s the federal government’s obligation to help local communities repair and rebuild local infrastructure and this coordinated effort to move this public service and safety project forward does just that. I appreciate FEMA’s efforts and look forward to working with them to relocate the Wellsburg facility.”
Tropical Storm Lee wreaked havoc on the Village of Wellsburg causing severe damage to the fire station. In his push with FEMA Administrator Fugate, Schumer stated that FEMA should be doing more, not less, to prioritize recovery efforts in Chemung County. After the flood, the fire station lost important equipment and the firefighter training room was destroyed. Schumer is pleased that FEMA is meeting its obligations in relation to this project, and will fund the relocation of the Village of Wellsburg fire station so that it won’t flood again.