Skip to content


In The Wake Of Last Weekend’s Massive Lake-Effect StormsDropping 7 Feet Of SnowWorking With Governor Hochul, Schumer Secured Federal Emergency Declaration For WNY Counties 

Now, As Damage Totals Continue To Rise, Schumer Says Feds Need Waive $5M Cap For Assistance Get $$$ Out The Door To Help Communities Dig Out, And Start Providing Assistance For Damaged Businesses 

Schumer: We Can’t Leave Buffalo Out In The Cold, Feds Need To Help Dig Out WNY ASAP 

Standing with mountains of snow at his back as workers continue to plow and remove snow across Western New York, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today launched a major all hands on deck approach to increase the amount of federal assistance, and the pace of its delivery, for Western New York following the record-breaking November snowstorm. Schumer explained that now, with a federal emergency declaration secured thanks to an effective partnership with Governor Hochul, the feds need to prioritize maximizing and accelerating the aide to help snow-impacted communities recover.

“Buffalo and Western New York were buried under nearly 7 feet of record breaking snowfall and now with a emergency declaration in hand we need the feds to get all hands on deck and put our Upstate communities on the fully plowed road to recovery. That means boots on the grounds assessing the damage and expanding the assistance to get those who suffered the most damage the assistance they need,” said Senator Schumer. “That is why I am also calling for FEMA to waive the current cap on assistance if totals continue to rise and exceed $5 million as expected, and for the SBA to prepare assistance for our small businesses that suffered damage and weathered the storm with more aide to help them rebuild. We can’t leave our Western NY and Upstate communities out in the cold with more snow on the way this winter, it is time for the feds to dig in and boost resources to help our communities dig out of Snowvember 2.0”

"On behalf of the people of Erie County, I want to thank Senators Schumer, Gillibrand and Congressman Higgins for working with President Biden to ensure an extraordinarily quick approval of Governor Hochul's request for a federal emergency declaration,” said County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “This will allow Erie County and the municipalities of our region proceed with storm-related clean-up costs knowing we are eligible for reimbursement as we continue to work collaboratively with our recovery efforts from this historic storm." 

Over the weekend of November 18th, Western New York and other Upstate communities received record snowfall of nearly seven feet. Orchard Park in Erie county reported upward of 80 inches, with peak snowfall accumulations of six inches per hour. The senator said the extreme snowfall created impossible travel conditions, caused power outages, flight cancellations, severe damage to infrastructure, and unfortunately resulted in the tragic loss of life of three New Yorkers from cardiac complications related to shoveling snow. On Sunday evening, November 20th, President Biden approved New York State’s request for an Emergency Declaration for Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Lewis, Niagara, Oneida, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Wyoming counties. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act authorizes the president to issue “major disaster” or “emergency” declarations before or after catastrophes occur. The decision to issue a declaration is at the discretion of the president, and must be requested by the governor of the state. These declarations unlock federal aid through the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and at times, the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Schumer said that the extreme snowstorm requires the feds to put all hands on deck and called for them to immediately begin work to maximize assistance to Western NY and other impacted communities. Specifically, Schumer explained that first he is calling for FEMA to waive the cap on the amount of assistance for impacted communities should the need arise. According to current regulations, the total amount of assistance provided under a single emergency may not exceed $5 million, but as damage costs continue to amount and local leaders anticipate meetings this cap, Schumer said it is imperative that they have the ability to receive further funding to recover. 

Similarly, the senator said he is also calling on the Small Business Administration to prepare aid and if deemed necessary issue an agency-level disaster declaration to unlock loans and other forms of assistance to help damaged businesses recover from the storm. Countless businesses were not able to open for their regular hours on what would have been a pre-holiday weekend. Many businesses missed out on operating during a Bills home game. The snow also impacted the infrastructure of many businesses in the area, including the collapse of Braymiller’s Lanes in Hamburg and a Sunoco station in West Seneca.  This would allow the SBA to offer low-interest loans for physical and economic damage caused by the snowstorm for business in the impacted counties.