SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND ANNOUNCE, AFTER THEIR PUSH, FEMA HAS OBLIGATED FINAL PART OF FUNDING FOR THE OWEGO APALACHIN CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT TO BUILD NEW MAINTENANCE & STORAGE FACILITIES DAMAGED BY TROPICAL STORM LEE
Schumer & Gillibrand Previously Pushed FEMA To Agree To Provide Fed Funding to Rebuild the School District’s Administration Building and Storage and Maintenance Facility Outside of the Floodplain – In March, Schumer & Gillibrand Successfully Secured The First $5 Million in Funding Needed To Get The Project Underway
Now, FEMA Has Obligated Final, Remaining Portion of Fed Funding; The Owego Apalachin School District Will Receive $11.4 Million Needed to Make Second Phase of This Project A Reality – Feds Will Fund 75% of $23 Million Project
Schumer: Owego Apalachin School District Will Finally See Second, Major Installment of These Funds Signed, Sealed & Delivered
U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has officially obligated $11,401,379.04 in funding for the Owego Apalachin Central School District for the much-needed construction of its maintenance and storage facilities, which were severely damaged during Tropical Storm Lee. This is the second installment of federal funding for this project. In March of this year, FEMA obligated the first portion of funding, in the amount of $5,774,749.20. Schumer and Gillibrand explained that FEMA announced in 2014, at the Senators’ urging, that they would be awarding funding for the relocation of both the administration building and maintenance and storage facilities that were severely damaged by Tropical Storm Lee. Prior to FEMA’s announcement in December, there had been several delays from FEMA in getting this funding out the door. Schumer and Gillibrand said that with this final, official obligation of funding—for 75 percent of the $23 million total project cost—for the maintenance and storage facilities is a major win for the school district. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand have been working with FEMA in support of the school district’s application to rebuild these facilities outside of the floodplain. The total cost of this phase of the project is $15.2 million; FEMA will fund 75% of the cost, or $11.4 million.
“Last year, I was proud to announce that FEMA had finally stepped up to the plate and agreed to award the Owego Apalachin Central School District the funding needed to relocate and rebuild facilities that were severely damaged in Tropical Storm Lee. Today, we can proudly say that their final check of $11.4 million – which will make the second phase of the project possible – is in the mail. These federal funds, which we have pushed to get over the finish line, will finally allow the school to complete its rebuilding of the storage and maintenance facilities,” said Senator Schumer. “These long-awaited funds will help the school district get back on its feet and provide a better, safer learning environment for its students, teachers, and administrators for the long-term.”
“I fought to get the Owego Apalachin Central School District this critical funding to rebuild its administration building because our students, their teachers and administrators deserve a safe learning environment,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The second phase of funding will allow the school to complete repairs sustained during Tropical Storm Lee and help make sure local taxpayers aren’t left to bear the burden alone. FEMA made good on its promise to Owego Apalachin and I will keep fighting for funding to help rebuild our communities.”
“The release of these funds couldn't be more timely,” said Dr. Bill Russell, Superintendent of the Owego Apalachin School District. “We are just in the beginning phases of construction on our new administration building, and about to break ground on our new maintenance/storage facility. We are so gratified at all the assistance we've received from Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand throughout our long flood recovery process. We are in the final stages of a full recovery, and we would not be here if not for the never ending support of New York's senators. They've been terrifically helpful.”
Schumer and Gillibrand have long fought to secure the funds necessary to allow the Owego Apalachin Central School District to rebuild after Tropical Storm Lee. In December 2014, Schumer and Gillibrand announced that FEMA had finally stepped up to the plate and agreed to award the Owego Apalachin Central School District the funding needed to relocate and rebuild facilities that were severely damaged in Tropical Storm Lee. After their advocacy, in March, Schumer and Gillibrand announced the first installment of $5 million would be in the mail for the school district.
The Owego Apalachin Central School District’s facilities were severely damaged after Tropical Storm Lee, leaving half of the district’s school buildings and facilities beyond repair. The funding obligated today by FEMA constitutes the final award the school district needs that will allow it to relocate its storage and maintenance facilities. The school district previously received a FEMA award to replace the Owego Elementary School and to rebuild the administration building. Today’s award is an important resource as the district works toward final stages of recovery from Tropical Storm Lee, and the Senators vowed to continue their fight to ensure that the school district receives all of the funding it was promised by FEMA.
Previously, in separate letters to FEMA, Schumer and Gillibrand urged the relocation of damaged school facilities away from the flood plain. In November 2014, Schumer again petitioned Administrator Fugate to support the facilities relocation under the 428 procedure, which authorizes alternative procedures for debris removal and repair, restoration, and replacement of disaster-damaged public and private nonprofit facilities under the Public Assistance (PA) program, giving applicants more flexibility to complete their project. In letters sent in January and March 2014, Senator Gillibrand wrote to FEMA Region II Administrator Jerome Hatfield, urging FEMA Region II to quickly resolve the request by the school district to relocate its administration, maintenance and storage facilities outside of the floodplain. Schumer and Gillibrand’s advocacy led to meetings between the District, FEMA, New York State and other stakeholders that ultimately resulted in FEMA granting the request.
In April 2012, Schumer called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to step up to the plate and improve its lackluster recovery efforts in Tioga County from Tropical Storm Lee. Schumer said the County’s rebuilding plans had met delays and roadblocks at the hands of FEMA. In May 2012, Schumer hosted a meeting in his Washington D.C. office with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in order to ensure that FEMA stepped up to the plate and improved its inconsistent recovery efforts in Tioga and Broome Counties from Tropical Storm Lee. In the meeting, Schumer highlighted that the Southern Tier communities’ rebuilding plans had met delays and roadblocks at the hands of FEMA, including buildings throughout the Owego Apalachin School District. In June 2012, Schumer announced that, after his urging, FEMA made plans to fund the replacement of the flood-ridden Owego Apalachin School District facilities, including the elementary school, with built-in mitigation efforts.
Tropical Storm Lee wreaked havoc on Tioga County and its public facilities in September 2011, causing severe damage to public infrastructure. The Owego Apalachin School district was particularly damaged, with five of its seven buildings badly damaged, and four rendered uninhabitable, including the Owego Elementary School and the District’s administration building and storage and maintenance facilities. The high school, middle school and athletic complex and fields also suffered major damage.