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Earlier This Week, Senators Announced FEMA Approved Disaster Declaration, Granting Access To Federal Funds For Impacted Communities In The Southern Tier, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, And Finger Lakes; However, Individual Assistance Was Denied To Hard-Hit Steuben County 

Senators Say Individual Assistance Is Necessary In Steuben County, Which Suffered Significant Damage 

Senators To FEMA: Steuben County Needs Addition Aid To Recover From Fred

After securing a disaster declaration for Tropical Storm Fred-impacted communities in Allegany County, Cayuga County, Cortland County, Lewis County, Oneida County, Steuben County, Tioga County, and Yates County earlier this week, unlocking potentially millions of dollars in federal aid to help with recovery, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged FEMA to reconsider granting Individual Assistance to Steuben County. The senators explained that while the disaster declaration unlocked Public Assistance, mainly for emergency work such as debris removal and permanent repairs to infrastructure, Individual Assistance was denied, which would provide direct aid to families and individuals. Given how battered Steuben County was by the storm, the senators called on FEMA to consider the county’s appeal for Individual Assistance.

“The people of Steuben County were completely battered by Tropical Storm Fred’s heavy rains and historic flooding that severely damaged Jasper-Troupsburg School,” said Senator Schumer. “While the Public Assistance FEMA approved earlier this week will go a long ways towards cleaning up and healing the community, Individual Assistance is needed to truly help families and individuals recover from this devastation. The administration must continue to work closely with Steuben County and New York State to make sure those impacted by this disaster get every dollar of funding they deserve from FEMA to set them on the road to recovery.”

“Tropical Storm Fred caused significant damage to Steuben County and the community remains in need of assistance,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is critical that FEMA reconsider providing Individual Assistance to the people of Steuben County in order to help them recover. I strongly support New York State’s forthcoming request and will continue to support efforts to deliver resources to these impacted families and people.”

The senators noted that Steuben County was particularly battered by Tropical Storm Fred, which wreaked havoc across New York State. During the storm, New York received over 7 inches of rain in three days, with 24-hour totals exceeding 3 inches in many locations and one receiving over 5 inches, helping make this one the wettest summers in the region. On the night of August 18th, Swift Water Rescue Crews had to be deployed to assist dozens of residents evacuate their homes and take refuge in shelters. In the Southern Tier, rushing floodwaters damaged hundreds of homes, businesses, roads, bridges, and were so powerful they even caused a train to derail. Local creeks reached historic levels, with the Tuscarora Creek cresting at over 14 feet.

Additionally, the storm resulted in the Jasper-Troupsburg High School becoming inundated with nearly four feet of water and mud, causing severe damage. On August 19th, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for Steuben County.

Schumer and Gillibrand’s letter to FEMA administrator Criswell appears below:

Dear Administrator Criswell,

We write in strong support of the State of New York’s forthcoming appeal of the denial for Individual Assistance to Steuben County following the devastating flooding caused by Tropical Storm Fred on August 18, 2021.

We appreciate the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) decision to grant Public Assistance to the eight counties New York State requested, as well as the Hazard Mitigation funding, but the damage in Steuben County was so severe that we disagree with FEMA’s decision not to grant the county Individual Assistance. This severe storm caused significant damage in Steuben County, homes have been left uninhabitable, residents have been displaced, and most tragically, the storm claimed one life. Steuben residents are hurting, the school in the Jasper-Troupsburg district had four feet of water in it, businesses were decimated, and the resident’s public infrastructure – from roads to bridges – was ravaged. Programs only available through Individual Assistance, like crisis counseling, housing assistance, and disaster legal support, will be key to the county’s recovery.

In Steuben County during the night of flooding on August 18, 2021, Swift Water Rescue Crews needed to be deployed to assist dozens of residents evacuating and now many remain without a home. Based off a joint federal, state, and local Preliminary Damage Assessment hundreds of homes and dozens businesses were destroyed or severely damaged. Many of these properties, are not located the flood plains, and as a result do not have flood insurance to help aid in recovery efforts, making federal support all the more essential to the rebuilding of their homes and lives. In short- residents in Steuben County have faced the devastating loss and are desperately in need of any and all help we can provide.

We strongly support the State of New York’s forthcoming request for Individual Assistance in the areas impacted by this storm event.  We appreciate your swift attention and consideration of this request and stand ready to work with you and FEMA to deliver support and resources to the impacted individuals and communities.