FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 16, 2012
SCHUMER URGES FEDS TO UNLOCK PROMISED FUNDING FOR GOWANDA FOLLOWING A DEVASTATING 2009 STORM – CALLS ON FEMA TO STEP UP IMMEDIATELY AND DELIVER $750K NEEDED TO REPAIR CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE YEARS AFTER STORM
In Personal Call to Top FEMA Official, Schumer Pushes FEMA to Expedite Long-Overdue Process to Fund Vital Infrastructure Repairs Caused in 2009 Storm
FEMA’s Inaction Has Forced Gowanda to Issue Bonds to Cover The Costs for Repairs– Schumer Highlighted in Call That Further Delay is Unacceptable
Schumer: FEMA Must Not Waste Another Moment in Delivering Funding to Gowanda
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged top officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deliver $750,000 in promised and much needed funding to the town of Gowanda for repairs to damaged infrastructure following a devastating storm in 2009. Senator Schumer called on FEMA to hold up their end of the agreement and fulfill their duty to aid this western New York community in the wake of disasters. Specifically, Schumer urged FEMA to expedite the process of providing emergency funding to Gowanda for three outstanding project worksheets that have been held up in FEMA's Public Assistance queue since a severe storm hit Gowanda in 2009. Following this natural disaster in Gowanda three years ago, the town had to spend one million dollars in repair costs. FEMA would cover up to $750,000 in reimbursements, but the extended delay has forced Gowanda to issue bonds in order to cover the costs. FEMA needs to step up to the plate and prevent Gowanda and other small towns in western New York from shouldering the burdens of these high costs years after the damage has ransacked local infrastructure.
“After nearly three years, it is absolutely unacceptable that the town of Gowanda is forced to bear the brunt of repair costs from the 2009 storm,” said Schumer. “If it wasn’t clear before, I am saying it now: FEMA must fast-track promised federal funding to get Gowanda back on the road to recovery, after this village suffered millions in infrastructure damage. Local residents and taxpayers deserve better, and it’s clear we need the full support of the federal government to help get things back on track. I’m going to leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding federal funds to help small towns in western New York, like Gowanda, rebuild. 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.”
Gowanda has three outstanding project worksheets (PWs) for repair work related to storms in July 2009. These PWs are the formal documents that outline the scope of work of what is to be repaired. FEMA obligates these PWs and reimburses the communities (75% of the costs). The three outstanding PWs have been in processing at the joint field office and total almost $1 million. Schumer highlighted that this delay has put Gowanda in an extremely difficult position because they’ve had to bond to cover the cost of the repair work until they get reimbursed.
Schumer had previously written a letter to FEMA requesting the expedited release of the remaining funding in March of 2012. Given the continued delay and impact on the local community, Schumer placed a personal call to FEMA in an effort to finally gain the needed approvals to release the funding. Schumer has also been a tireless advocate for the release of funds necessary to reconstruct the Tri-County Hospital in Gowanda that was also destroyed during the storm.