FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 20, 2012
SCHUMER CALLS ON FEMA TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE AND SWIFTLY REIMBURSE THE VILLAGE OF MONTICELLO FOR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS IN INFRASTRUCTURE REPAIRS CAUSED BY TROPICAL STORM IRENE, NEARLY A YEAR AGO
Schumer Tours St. John Street in the Village of Monticello to Inspect Approximately $500,000 In Damages to the Main Thoroughfare & Underlying Culvert Pipe; Monticello Has Been Forced to Foot Bill for Repairs to This Critical Village Infrastructure While Reimbursement Awaits FEMA Approval
Immediately After the Storm, Schumer Fought to Secure FEMA Public Assistance for Sullivan County Infrastructure Repairs – With One-Year Anniversary of Storm Fast Approaching, Senator Called on FEMA to Finally Provide Promised Relief to Monticello
Schumer: Monticello Can’t Be Left on the Hook for Storm Repair Costs
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer toured St. John Street in the Village of Monticello to inspect hundreds of thousands of dollars in still-uncompensated infrastructure damage caused as a result of Tropical Storm Irene last summer. The Village of Monticello was hit particularly hard, with the powerful storm causing the village’s main pipe culvert to cave in, which in turn caused St. John Street, a main thoroughfare, to collapse.
Following the tour, Schumer highlighted that village officials have grave concerns with the speed with which they are being reimbursed for repair work to the 225 feet of culvert pipe, which alone could cost $200,000. The Village has decided to complete as much of the infrastructure repair work independently in order to lower costs, but these repairs are estimated to cost roughly $500,000. Since the storm almost a year ago, village officials have worked closely with state emergency management officials to assess damages and submit a project worksheet to FEMA. The project worksheet, which outlines in detail the damages the village wants to be reimbursed for, has been submitted and awaits final FEMA approval. Schumer therefore urged FEMA to expedite its review of the village’s damage assessment and reimburse the community for St. John Street repair work to the fullest extent possible, so that the community and local taxpayers can return to pre-disaster conditions and are not forced to shoulder the entire burden of this storm alone.
“After almost a year since Tropical Storm Irene ravaged Monticello, tore up its streets and pipes, and damaged public buildings, the Village is still on the hook for repair costs that have put a serious strain on their budget. The delay is unacceptable and I’m urging FEMA to step up to the plate and promptly reimburse Monticello to the fullest extent possible,” said Schumer. “Since the storm, the people of Monticello took the initiative and independently repaired half a million dollars-worth of infrastructural damage in order to keep the cost of repairs at a minimum. Now it’s time for the federal government to step up to the plate and prevent the Village of Monticello from drowning in the high cost of the storm’s aftermath. I applaud the Village of Monticello for doing their part to make this community a safer, cleaner and more livable city during their recovery from Tropical Storm Irene, all at the lowest price tag possible. Now I am urging FEMA to remove the heavy burden of these high costs from the backs of the citizens in Sullivan County who wasted no time in fixing the expansive damages.”
“The City of Monticello desperately needs FEMA funding to rebuild and repair the damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene,” Mayor Gordon Jenkins. “The high cost of repairing infrastructure in Monticello without FEMA assistance would be an unbearable burden to tax-payers and city coffers. I thank the Senator for his help in pushing FEMA to allocate the full funding in an expedited manner and thank everyone who has been working with us on the ground to move the necessary repairs forward.”
Schumer joined Mayor Gordon Jenkins andVillage Manager John LiGreci as he launched his push for FEMA to step up to the plate and reimburse the Village of Monticello for nearly $500,000 in damages to critical infrastructure in the municipality. On September 4, 2011, just a few days following the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene, Schumer helped provide FEMA public assistance to help the region rebuild and repair infrastructure damaged in the storm. Initially, this disaster assistance was not made available in the President’s emergency declaration, and Schumer fought for it to be added to the list, so that the county would be eligible for repair and replacement of disaster-damaged facilities, debris removal, infrastructure repairs, and other emergency measures.
Since the storm, village officials have decided to complete as much of the work as it can on its own. However, culvert and street repair work has proven very expensive, and delayed processing of the village’s project worksheet has placed the village in a difficult financial situation. At the very least, the village needs to replace and repair 225 feet of culvert pipe, which alone would force the village to front more than $200,000. The work will start on St. John Street on both sides of the road and continue on to Spring Street. Within this area, the old 12-foot-in-diameter pipe will be dug up and replaced and the roads will be repaved. However, the replacement of some of the pipe may only be the equivalent of placing a band aid on the problem. Ideally, the village would receive reimbursement funding to replace the entire stretch of pipeline. By only replacing 225 feet of the pipe compared to the 500 feet necessary the repair will be ignoring the long term needs of the city and its residents. Additionally, The Village of Monticello has worked hard with their engineer to put together a long-term 75 year plan to deal with these needed repairs to get the damaged infrastructure back in the shape it needs to be in for the community and local residents.
In August 2011, Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc on Sullivan County and its public facilities, causing severe damage to public infrastructure and creating more than 130 projected public assistance projects which could cost almost $3 million to repair. The Village of Monticello was hit particularly hard, with the powerful storm causing the village’s main pipe culvert to cave in. This in turn caused St. John Street, a main thoroughfare, to collapse. Village officials worked closely with state emergency management officials to assess damages and submit a project worksheet to FEMA. The project worksheet, which outlines in detail the damages the village wants to be reimbursed for, has been submitted and awaits final FEMA approval.
“Monticello is working hard to come back from this record breaking storm, but now more than ever we need help from our federal officials,” Schumer continued. “I’m hopeful that Administrator Fugate will continue to work with me and my fellow New Yorkers, as he has in the past, to help our communities recover.”
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter appears below:
The Honorable W. Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20472
Dear Administrator Fugate:
I write today to call your attention to urgent issues facing the residents of the Village of Monticello, in Sullivan County, New York.
As you know, Sullivan County was hit very hard by Tropical Storm Irene. Specifically, FEMA projected the cost to repair, restore, and replace public facilities and infrastructure at more than $2.7 million. On top of that, this storm forced more than 400 people to apply for temporary housing, home repair, and other needs assistance through FEMA’s individual assistance program.
The Village of Monticello was hit particularly hard, with the powerful storm causing the village’s main pipe culvert to cave in. This, in turn, caused St. John Street, a main thoroughfare in the village, to collapse. Village officials have worked tirelessly for several months in efforts to recover from this devastating storm to restore this important piece of public infrastructure to pre-disaster conditions. Unfortunately, almost one year later, the village has yet to be completely reimbursed for damage repair work to one of the village’s most important thoroughfares.
Village of Monticello officials have done the responsible thing by attempting to complete as much of the repair work independently, patiently awaiting FEMA to reimburse eligible costs. However, repair to the 225 feet of culvert pipe alone is estimated to cost approximately $200,000, and costs to repair the entire pipe and road are projected to reach $500,000. Our local towns and villages can only do so much, though, and the magnitude of such costs can easily overwhelm a municipality’s budget.
The Village of Monticello desperately needs FEMA funding in order to move forward and bring this local community back to pre-disaster conditions, and I respectfully urge you to expedite the review and approval of any outstanding project worksheets related to the Village of Monticello’s damages from Tropical Storm Irene.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request. If you have any questions, please contact me or my staff at 202-224-6542.
U. S. Senator Charles E. Schumer