SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND ANNOUNCE, AFTER THEIR PUSH, FEMA HAS OBLIGATED FIRST PART OF FUNDING FOR THE OWEGO APALACHIN CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT TO BUILD NEW ADMINISTRATION BUILDING DAMAGED BY TROPICAL STORM LEE
In December, FEMA Announced It Had Agreed To Provide Fed Funding to Rebuild the School District’s Administration Building and Storage and Maintenance Facility Outside of the Floodplain – Now, More Than $5 Million in Funding Is On Its Way; Will Enable the School to Get First Part of Project Underway
Schumer, Gillibrand Vow to Continue to Push Feds to Get the Remaining Portion of the $23 Million Award Out the Door For Second Phase of Project
Schumer: Owego Apalachin School District Will Finally See These Funds Signed, Sealed, and Delivered
Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has officially obligated $5,774,749.20 in funding to the Owego Apalachin Central School District for the much-needed construction of its administration building, which was severely damaged during Tropical Storm Lee. 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 this first official obligation of funding—for 75 percent of the $7,699,665.60 total project cost—for the administration building 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 and vowed to continue to push FEMA to get the remaining funding obligated for the maintenance and storage facilities as soon as possible. This overall project was valued at roughly $23 million.
In March of 2014, with the support of both Senators, FEMA attended a meeting to discuss the project and review the proposal. In separate letters to FEMA, Schumer and Gillibrand urged the relocation of damaged school facilities away from the flood plain. In November, 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 December, I announced that FEMA had finally stepped up to the plate and agreed to award the Owego Apalachin Central School District the funding its needs to relocate and rebuild facilities that were severely damaged in Tropical Storm Lee. Today, we can now proudly say that their first check is in the mail. These federal funds, which we have pushed to get over the finish line, will first allow the school to rebuild its administration building. And we will not give up the fight until all of the funds FEMA promised Owego Apalachin are signed, sealed and delivered for the additional maintenance and storage facilities that need rebuilding,” said Senator Schumer. “After disaster strikes, it is the federal government’s obligation to help local communities repair and rebuild local infrastructure; we now have the first part of the funding this district needs to get back on its feet. These long-awaited funds will allow the school district to provide a better, safer learning environment for students, teachers, and administrators without pushing the financial burden to local taxpayers.”
“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. “This funding will allow the school to rebuild from damage it sustained during Tropical Storm Lee and help make sure local taxpayers aren’t left to bear the burden alone. I will continue to push FEMA to make good on its promise to Owego Apalachin and will keep fighting for funding to help rebuild the facilities and school grounds.”
“I’m happy to hear that FEMA is releasing these funds. It’s been a long struggle to get to this place, and it feels like now we can finally move forward. I am very appreciative of all the Senators’ help at the Federal level, which has been integral in reaching the finish line,” saidBill Russell, Owego Apalachin Central School District Superintendent.
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 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, which 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.
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 is an additional award for the school district that will allow it to relocate its administration building. The school district previously received a FEMA award to replace the Owego Elementary School. 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.
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.