FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 7, 2012
SCHUMER URGES FEMA TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE & PROVIDE GLEN AUBREY FIRE DEPARTMENT CRUCIAL FUNDING TO RELOCATE, AVOID FUTURE CLOSURES THAT ENDANGER LOCAL RESIDENTS
After Repeated Flooding, Schumer Calls On FEMA Administrator Fugate to Reverse Decision & Allow the Fire Station to Be Relocated to Higher Ground
Currently, Station’s Constant Risk of Flood Is Crippling Financial & Safety Threat to Town – FEMA’s Assistance Would Allow Station’s Move from Flood Plain To Safe and Effective Location
Schumer: FEMA Should Not Leave Local Firefighters & Glen Aubrey Residents Out to Dry
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure that the agency steps up to the plate and provides assistance for the relocation of the Glen Aubrey Fire Department, whose flood prone location has put residents at risk and cost Glen Aubrey thousands of dollars. The present location has sustained multiple incidents of flooding, resulting in two flood insurance claims and the need for FEMA funding. Schumer emphasized in his letter to Administrator Craig Fugate that FEMA’s immediate assistance would allow the Glen Aubrey Fire Department to move to a higher elevation, and allow the community to protect its residents instead of being left defenseless when the fire station floods.
“FEMA must step up to the plate and provide immediate relocation assistance to the Glen Aubrey Fire Department, instead of leaving local residents and firefighters out to dry the next time a flood strikes,” said Schumer. “We need a permanent solution, not a patch-work approach that is costly and dangerous. Even one more closure of Glen Aubrey’s only fire station due to flooding is too many, and the federal government needs to provide the resources for a permanent solution for the Glen Aubrey Fire Department’s flood-prone location. Glen Aubrey has been forced to file costly insurance claims over the past two years, which does little more than place a Band-Aid on the problem after a flood closes the station. This is costly and endangers the safety of local residents. FEMA must secure the relocation of the Glen Aubrey Fire department, which will help safeguard the local residents the next time an emergency strikes.”
Schumer noted in his letter to Administrator Fugate that flood damage has twice closed Glen Aubrey’s Fire Department in 2011 alone, which has temporarily prevented local firefighters from protecting the community in both instances. The Town of Glen Aubrey, located in Broome County, has proposed a new site for the station, which is only half a mile away from the current location, but on a knoll that is higher and less vulnerable to flooding.
Schumer listed two primary concerns with the current location of the Glen Aubrey Fire Department. First, the constant risk of flood remains a crippling financial threat for the town. In 2011, the fire department has filed two flood insurance claims that totaled $350,000 after a flood on April 29th and September 7th last year rendered the station inoperable. The April flood set the department back $150,000 in damages, and the September flood cost $200,000. Second, the threat of the fire department’s closure due to storms perpetually puts the local residents at risk during inclement weather. Last week, heavy rainfall impeded the Glen Aubrey firefighters’ ability to work effectively, which threatened the lives of the people they protect.
“It’s plain and simple,” Schumer continued. “We shouldn’t be doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. This location floods, as history has proven time and time again. Those who volunteer their time to save lives, shouldn’t be burdened with the hassle of insurance paperwork, residents shouldn’t face having their station closed or emergency responses slowed, and federal dollars shouldn’t repeatedly be invested in a structure that isn’t safe.”
Schumer pointed out that the new location would save both FEMA and Glen Aubrey thousands of dollars in the costs future damage due to storms and ensure the heightened security of local residents. The nearby location that poses a much smaller risk of flooding, would serve as an investment for both the federal government and Glen Aubrey Fire Department because the one-time expense of relocation would be dwarfed by the continued cost of repairing the fire department if it remains in its current floodplain.
A copy Sen. Schumer’s letter appears below:
Dear Administrator Fugate:
I write to express my support for the Glen Aubrey Fire Department’s request for relocation assistance. For years, the Glen Aubrey Fire Department has experienced continuous flooding due to its low-lying location. Rather than constantly make flood insurance claims and requests for FEMA funding, it is the request of the Glen Aubrey Fire Department that FEMA fund the move to a higher elevation, where flood damage will not constantly hamper their ability to protect the community.
The department has made two flood insurance claims in 2011 alone. Flooding on April 29, 2011 and again September 7, 2011 rendered the fire station inoperable twice in one year. The April flood caused more than $150,000 in damages to both building and contents. September’s flood caused more than $200,000 in damages to both building and contents. As if those damages were not enough, just last week substantial rain brought several feet of water and made any type of activity for the fire department difficult, if not impossible.
The flooding issues are twofold. First, it is a constant burden on Glen Aubrey financially. They have to continually make insurance claims and requests for funding from FEMA. Second, during storms the importance of having a fire department capable of responding quickly cannot be overstated. When the Glen Aubrey Fire Department itself falls victim to storms, emergency officials cannot work efficiently, which has the indirect effect of placing the lives of the people they protect in jeopardy.
The proposed new location is one half mile away, and is located on a knoll that is not vulnerable to flooding. This relocation is ideal because it will give the department the ability to work quickly without having the concern of regular flooding. The one-time expense of relocating should be counted as an investment and weighed against the future expenses FEMA will incur due to repetitive flood damage.