06.08.15

SCHUMER: BINGHAMTON UNIVERSITY’S DOWNTOWN CENTER SUFFERED SEVERE FLOOD DAMAGE DURING TROPICAL STORM LEE, BUT FEMA PAPERWORK MISTAKE DEDUCTED $2.8 MILLION MEANT TO HELP REBUILD & RECOVER – SCHUMER URGES FEMA TO SWIFTLY REVIEW & APPROVE BINGHAMTON’S APPEAL FOR FULL FED FUNDING

Binghamton University’s Downtown Center Was Inundated By Flood Waters During Tropical Storm Lee, Which Caused Extensive Damage To Electrical And Mechanical Services That Support Key Building Functions

Binghamton Was Initially Approved for $3.1 Million For Building Repairs, But FEMA Then Unnecessarily Deducted Nearly $2.8 Million From That Total For Insurance The University Did Not Have – Now, Binghamton Has Only Been Approved For Roughly $400,000 & Has Appealed to FEMA For Full Fed Funding 

Schumer Says Binghamton Should Not Be Left Holding The Bag For FEMA’s Mix-Up – Urges Feds to Cut Through Red Tape & Restore Full Funding For Rehabilitation Project

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to swiftly review and approve an appeal submitted by Binghamton University for federal funds to which they are entitled. Schumer explained that, following Tropical Storm Lee, FEMA approved a total project cost of $3,188,766 in funding for repairs to its University Downtown Center. The Center was inundated by flood water during Tropical Storm Lee, causing extensive damage to all electrical and mechanical services that support the building’s functions. However, following this decision, FEMA then mistakenly deducted $2,778,462 from the federal funding it was allocated for “anticipated flood insurance proceeds.” But because Binghamton University did not have this insurance on the Downtown Center building, it was still entitled to full federal funding under FEMA policy. FEMA then only approved Binghamton University for $410,304, prompting the university to appeal the decision. While Binghamton University is still waiting to receive a review on its appeal, Schumer said the university should not be left to foot the remainder of this high cost for repairs. As a result, Schumer said FEMA should quickly review and approve this appeal, as well as Binghamton’s other appeal , and restore full funding to the project that will help Binghamton University rehabilitate this critical building on its campus. Schumer also noted that multiple SUNY campuses that suffered damage during Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee have pending appeals that may also have similar insurance issues; he urged FEMA to adjudicate the other appeals as quickly as possible.

“A multi-million dollar mistake on FEMA’s part should not mean a massive project funding gap for Binghamton University,” saidSenator Schumer. “The university needs these federal funds to rehabilitate a critical building on its campus, but the project remains at a standstill until these funds are signed, sealed and delivered to Binghamton. So I am urging FEMA to expeditiously review and approve Binghamton University’s appeal for the full federal funding it needs and deserves to get this project underway and rebuild these vital facilities.”

“The flood damage that occurred at our University Downtown Center was devastating and costly. The building was closed for nearly a year while repairs were made,” said Harvey Stenger, President of Binghamton University. “We want to thank Senator Schumer for all that he is doing to support our efforts to seek reimbursement for the funds spent by the University to bring our Downtown Center back online. 

Schumer explained that though the total claim for the University Downtown Center was $3,188,766, FEMA only approved $410,304 following the storm damage from Tropical Storm Lee, citing that $2,778,462 which was deduced as insurance. However, Schumer said, this paperwork mistake on FEMA’s part could cost the University millions. While FEMA approved funding for Binghamton University and other campuses in 2012, SUNY soon noticed that FEMA had deducted large sums from some of the projects as “anticipated flood insurance proceeds.” According to SUNY, however, FEMA attributed this Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) insurance to buildings like the Downtown Center that are not dorms and therefore not covered by DASNY insurance policies. This led to FEMA incorrectly deducting anticipated insurance proceeds from the grant.

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to FEMA appears below:

Dear Administrator Fugate:

I write in regards to the appeals submitted by the State University of New York (SUNY) for damages to university buildings on several campuses after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. I urge you to adjudicate these appeals as soon as possible, and to ensure that the SUNY campuses receive all the FEMA funding to which they are entitled.

Numerous SUNY campuses were faced with significant amounts of damage in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. For example, the basement of Binghamton University’s Downtown Center was inundated by flood water during Tropical Storm Lee, causing extensive damage to all electrical and mechanical services that support the building’s functions. SUNY New Paltz also saw severe damage during Hurricane Irene; the basement of the Haggerty Administration Building flooded, causing severe damage to the building and knocking out power. These are just a few examples; other campuses across the state were also severely impacted by these storms.

While FEMA approved funding for many of these campuses in 2012, SUNY soon noticed that FEMA had deducted large sums from some of the projects as “anticipated flood insurance proceeds.” According to SUNY, FEMA attributed Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) insurance to buildings that were not covered by DASNY insurance policies, which led to FEMA incorrectly deducting anticipated insurance proceeds from the grant. For example, when FEMA awarded funding to Binghamton University to repair the University Downtown Center Basement, FEMA deducted nearly $2.8 million in anticipated DASNY insurance proceeds, but the building was not covered by DASNY insurance. I urge you to adjudicate this appeal, and the other related SUNY appeals, to ensure that the campuses receive all of the funding they need and deserve to rebuild.

I appreciate FEMA’s past support of the SUNY campuses, and I thank you for your attention to these important projects. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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