FOLLOWING HIS VISIT TO MAMARONECK, SCHUMER CALLS TOP BRASS AT ARMY TO DEMAND PRIORITIZATION OF MAMRONECK PROJECT; HOURS AFTER HIS CONFIRMATION, SCHUMER CALLS NEW ASSISTANT SECRETARY TO MAKE MAMARONECK TOP PRIORITY, FULLY FUND PROJECT, AND SAVE LIVES
Schumer: Mamaroneck Has Suffered Severe Flooding Too Long; Assistant Secretary of the Army Must Select And Approve The Mamaroneck & Sheldrake Rivers Project
Protecting The Safety Of Families Must Be Top Priority For USACE; Project Would Construct Flood Defenses For Mamaroneck That Has Suffered Millions of $$ In Damages For Decades
Schumer: After Hurricane Ida and Another Deadly Flood Year, Mamaroneck Deserves Flood Protection NOW
After years of delays under the Trump administration, and after visiting Mamaroneck in September to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Ida, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer last week made a personal call to the newly confirmed Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Michael Connor, to demand the inclusion of the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Flood Risk Management Project (the Project) to the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022 work plan.
The Chief of Engineers for the Army Corps reports to the Assistant Secretary, who approves the projects submitted by the Corps. Assistant Secretary Connor’s confirmation was approved in the U.S. Senate on November 4, 2021, and within hours of his confirmation, Senator Schumer called him to emphasize his adamant support for the critically important Mamaroneck project.
On the call, Schumer explained Mamaroneck’s tragic history with flooding, which has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in damage and the incalculable loss of life of multiple residents. Schumer said he fought to pass the Disaster Supplemental so that essential flood and storm damage protection projects, like the Mamaroneck project, would not continue to be held up in bureaucratic red tape.
“Protecting the safety of Mamaroneck families and businesses must be the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ top priority, but years of delays and failure by the previous administration to include the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Flood Risk Management Project, despite Mamaroneck’s frightening decades-long history of loss of life and hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage, must move forward NOW,” said Senator Charles Schumer. “The Hurricane Ida damage I witnessed earlier this year was devastating, which is why I directly called Assistant Secretary Connor as soon as he was confirmed to let him know the urgency of including this project – to prevent future harm and protect the people of the Village of Mamaroneck. We need to do everything we can to protect and rebuild the Mamaroneck community that has already suffered for decades because of severe flooding and I will continue to fight tooth and nail to make that happen.”
“Ever since he visited in early September after Hurricane Ida, Senator Schumer has not taken his foot off the gas in this fight to finally get the funding needed for shovels in the ground on the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Flood Risk Management Project. He got the funding we needed in the Disaster Supplemental, called the top person at OMB to make sure she knew about our village and the devastation we’ve seen, and it says a lot about Senator Schumer that he called Assistant Secretary Connor - just hours after his confirmation as the new Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works - to fight for us and this project,” said Mamaroneck Mayor Tom Murphy. “Actions, not words, prove who someone is and Senator Schumer has shown us time and time again that he’s a tireless fighter for this project and his constituents in Mamaroneck.”
Schumer visited Mamaroneck the day after Hurricane Ida hit the region, where disadvantaged residents living in the USACE project zone reported 14-feet of water flooding the area forcing them to evacuate their homes and seek shelter in the dead of night. There were over 150 water rescues, 535 flooded homes, 1,000 people displaced, and 310 abandoned cars. The Village has reported over $22M in damages and at least $100M in residential and commercial damage. Five Westchester residents also tragically lost their lives in the flooding, including one in Mamaroneck bringing the total number of people who have died in Mamaroneck as a result of the persistent flooding to three in the past 25 years.
Schumer has a long history of advocating on behalf of flood prevention in the Mamaroneck community. Last month following a personal call from the senator, Schumer secured $1.5 billion in disaster supplemental aid to fast track Ida-impacted Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) construction projects.
The Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Flood Risk Management Project was first imagined in response to a 2007 Nor’easter storm, which produced record flooding in the Village of Mamaroneck, equivalent to a one percent flood event. Senator Schumer travelled to the area the day after the storm to personally survey the extent of the significant damage. The 2007 event caused over $50 million in damages and impacted over 50 percent of total structures within the study area. The storm resulted in floodwaters peaking on the Mamaroneck River in approximately four hours, and in approximately six hours on the Sheldrake River. As such, the evacuation time for approximately 19,000 residents in the Village of Mamaroneck was severely restricted and created a high-risk situation. Over 40 percent of Mamaroneck residents required evacuation assistance prior to floodwaters peaking, including a large population of children that attended a school located within the epicenter of the severe flooding.
Following this, in March of 2010, a Design Agreement was signed by the Army Corps, NYS Department of Conservation (NYSDEC), and Westchester County for a Preconstruction Engineering and Design study. During this time, severe flooding again occurred during Hurricanes Irene and Lee in 2011. The flooding extended several blocks on both sides of Mamaroneck Avenue. The repeated disasters, including shoreline flooding from Super Storm Sandy in 2012, caused extensive damage and severely impacted the local economy. Following a $4.7 million Schumer-secured study by the Army Corps, the project was recommended by the Chief of Engineers and Schumer successfully fought to authorize this project for construction in the 2018 America’s Water Infrastructure Act. However, in February of 2020 it was discovered that the Trump administration would not move forward with the construction of the project because of the Benefit-Cost Ratio used by OMB, sparking community concern and outrage.
If funded, the project will reduce flood risk for the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Basins and help protect residents and business owners by constructing retaining walls and a diversion culvert. The project will also enable the deepening and widening of river channels, structure elevation, and other critical infrastructure updates. The plan is estimated to potentially reduce average annual damages by approximately 87 percent and help reduce the risk of loss of life.
A copy of Schumer, Gillibrand, and Bowman’s original joint letter to Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jamie Pinkham and Commanding General and Chief of Engineers, Lieutenant General Scott A. Spellmon appears below:
Dear Acting Assistant Secretary Pinkham and Lieutenant General Spellmon:
As you select and prioritize projects for funding from the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022 (P.L. 117-43) (Disaster Supplemental), we write to express my utmost support for the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers Flood Risk Management Project and strongly urge its selection as a construction project for full funding.
Hurricane Ida caused historic flooding throughout the New York Metropolitan Area and one of the hardest-hit areas is the Village of Mamaroneck in Westchester County. The village experienced significant damage with up to 14 feet of water flooding homes, businesses, and roadways. In the aftermath of the storm, streets in the Village were impassable, while many residents, including children and the elderly, remained trapped in flood-damaged homes waiting for assistance from first responders and more than half of the Village lost power due to flooding. There were over 150 water rescues, 535 flooded homes, 1,000 people displaced, and 310 abandoned cars. The Village has reported over $18 M in damages and over $75 M in residential and commercial damage.
Alarmingly, Hurricane Ida, which came on the heels of Hurricane Henri, is not the first time that a storm has caused significant damage to the Village of Mamaroneck. In April of 2007, for example, a Nor’easter caused over $50 million in damages and impacted over 50 percent of total structures within the USACE Project Area. Over 40 percent of Mamaroneck residents needed evacuation assistance, including children attending school within the epicenter of the severe flooding.
At least two deaths have occurred as a result of flooding within the project area, and an additional death occurred in the village due to Ida. Three deaths from flooding are three deaths too many and the construction phase of this project must commence as soon as possible. No bureaucratic impediments, no red tape, including a lack of full funding, should come between the project and the work that must be done.
The Disaster Supplemental legislation included $3 billion in funding for construction projects, including $1.5 billion in states, including New York, with a major disaster declared due to Hurricane Ida pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, and the ability to fund projects at full federal expense.
Congress passed the Disaster Supplemental precisely so that critical flood and storm damage protection projects such as the Mamaroneck project would not continue to languish, and real progress could be made to advance them to the construction phase. We now urge you to select and approve the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers Flood Risk Management Project for full funding.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.