FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 16, 2012
SCHUMER URGES FEDS TO UNLOCK PROMISED FUNDING FOR PHILIPSTOWN IN THE WAKE OF DEVASTATING FLOODING LAST FALL – CALLS ON FEMA TO DELIVER $1.2M NEEDED TO REOPEN ROADS, CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE ONE YEAR AFTER TROPICAL STORM IRENE
In Personal Call to Top FEMA Official, Schumer Pushes FEMA to Expedite Process to Fund Vital Infrastructure Repairs – Critical Roads Left Impassable and Damaged Due To Lack of Funding
One Year After Schumer Toured Philipstown’s Wreckage, Delays Could Force Town to Pay for Completed Repairs & Cancel Pending Projects – Schumer Highlighted in Call That Further Delay is Unacceptable
Schumer: FEMA Must Fast-Track Funding for Philipstown’s Road to Recovery
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged top officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to unlock $1,263,445 in promised funding for Philipstown to repair damaged infrastructure following Tropical Storm Irene. Senator Schumer called on FEMA to hold up their end of the agreement and fulfill their duty to aid this Putnam County community in the wake of disasters. Specifically, Schumer urged FEMA to expedite the process of providing emergency public assistance funding to Philipstown and obligate outstanding project worksheets in order to help the community meet FEMA’s own 18 month deadline for infrastructure repairs following natural disasters. The Hudson Valley region is still suffering the effects of Tropical Storm Irene a year later and needs to get the federal help that was promised and that it is relying on for repairs. However, since being declared eligible for federal disaster assistance, Philipstown has yet to receive its federal aid. FEMA is reportedly re-evaluating its original offer to help pay for mitigation projects and flood prevention insurance. This comes despite the fact that Philipstown has already planned, designed, and even financed some of these projects with the assumption that FEMA would provide assistance.
“FEMA must fast-track the obligation of outstanding project worksheets that are needed to get Philipstown on the road to recovery, nearly one year after Tropical Storm Irene cost Putnam County and the Hudson Valley region millions in infrastructure damage,” said Schumer. “Delays on FEMA’s end to provide necessary assistance will prevent Philipstown from meeting FEMA’s own federal deadline to repair roads, bridges, and municipal infrastructure that have been left unusable for far too long. Now that the school year is fast approaching, the damaged roads in Philipstown pose a huge threat to the area’s schoolchildren, as well as local residents. The devastation in Putnam County and throughout the Hudson Valley is unimaginable, and it’s clear we need the full support of the federal government to help get things back on track. FEMA needs to work hand in glove with state and local leaders to make sure our communities have every single tool at their disposal to rebuild roads, bridges, utilities, and other key infrastructure. I’m also going to fight as hard as I can to make sure that homeowners and business owners get the support they need as we work to rebuild New York.”
“As a small municipality with limited resources we have done everything that FEMA and NYS have required with regard to filings and documentation,” said Philipstown Supervisor Richard Shea. “We've held up our end now it's time for FEMA to do the same and release the funds so that we can finish the repairs. We are confident, that with the continued help of Senator Schumer, that FEMA will fulfill their mandate and provide the funding we need to rebuild our roads and bridges. We've got a lot of work left to do in Philipstown. The deadlines for getting that work done this year are approaching.”
Nearly a year after Irene devastated Philipstown’s roads and bridges, Schumer personally spoke with top FEMA officials and emphasized that Philipstown residents should not wait any longer to receive the federal aid from FEMA that they deserve and require to rebuild vital infrastructure. The town has spent the past 12 months repairing damages to the area and still has many pending construction projects. Philipstown needs over $1.2 million from FEMA to fund the remaining recovery effort and to continue to repair roads. With the school year right around the corner, the community cannot afford to have roads closed or to be in a state of disrepair threatening to impede bus routes and student commutes to and from school. Additionally, Philipstown is now in a time crunch to comply with a FEMA imposed deadline. Specifically, according to these federal regulations, Philipstown has 18 months since its initial meeting with FEMA to complete repairs to the roads and faces a deadline in mid-March.
Schumer emphasized during the call that Philipstown has eight different projects being evaluated for funding that add up to a cost of $1,263,445.51 as reported by Highway Superintendent Roger Chirico. Because of the pressing needs of the repairs, Philipstown has already completed several projects and put many others out to bid. However, due to the delay in FEMA assistance, it has put the town on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Town of Philipstown has worked diligently to document and submit all the necessary information the FEMA and have subsequently had FEMA teams replaced or dismissed from their projects, forcing the town to start the entire process over with a new set of FEMA specialists. The restart of this process results in delays and places a strain on town resources and duplication of work. This federal delay has severely affected the town’s cash flow as well as other town obligations which are piled on top of the damage the storm has already inflicted upon the community. If the town does not receive obligated project worksheets and reimbursement soon, they will be forced to bond for the costs of the projects. This will ultimately increase the overall cost and put taxpayers on the line for increased costs for years to come. The lack of timely obligation and reimbursement now has the town concerned that, due to delays on FEMA’s end, they will fail to fund and complete the repair projects by FEMA’s own 18 month deadline. Also, with schools across Philipstown set to open their doors in the coming weeks, it is critical that roads and bridges get the needed repairs immediately to allow buses to pick up and drop off students safely and securely. Many roads have only have minor repairs, along with some roads completely closed, creating confusion for parents and school administrators alike.
Schumer has fought for federal relief on behalf of Putnam County and the Hudson Valley region for the past year in the wake of the damage that Tropical Storm Irene inflicted upon the region, including both Individual and Public Assistance from FEMA. The tropical storm, which hit last August, left the Hudson Valley region and much of southeastern New York in a state of disrepair. After touring the region last year right after the storm hit, Senator Schumer vowed to push for federal funding for the recovery effort. The Senator stated that he would search high and low for every federal dollar possible to help the state recover and stands by that statement today.