01.17.20

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND, BRINDISI, STEFANIK CALL ON ADMINISTRATION TO ACCEPT NEW YORK STATE’S APPEAL FOR DISASTER DECLARATION

Following Catastrophic Halloween Flooding, Members of Congress Make Bipartisan, Bicameral Ask for Administration to Reconsider Denial of Individual Assistance

Following the disastrous Halloween flooding in the region, New York representatives Congressman Anthony Brindisi, Senator Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik called on the Administration to reverse their denial of Individual Assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Despite heavy damage and loss of life, FEMA denied New York State’s request for Individual Assistance on December 20, 2019. The State of New York appealed the decision on January 15, 2020.

“We write in strong support of the State of New York’s appeal of the denial of Individual Assistance to Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer and Oneida counties,” wrote the members. “We are grateful for the federal support afforded in the wake of this disaster to New York thus far, which will assist greatly with the cleanup and remediation of the area. However, we urge the Administration to expeditiously approve New York’s request for Individual Assistance programs within the four aforementioned counties. Federal support is necessary to protect public health and safety and provide relief, like housing assistance, disaster unemployment assistance and crisis counseling, to individuals whose homes were destroyed in this disaster.”

In order to receive money from FEMA, the State of New York conducted a Preliminary Damage Assessment in coordination with FEMA and requested a major disaster declaration. The Governor made that request November 26th. On December 2, Brindisi, Schumer, Gillibrand, and Stefanik urged President  Trump to approve a major disaster declaration in New York following the Halloween storms and flooding. The state received a major disaster declaration and approval for Public Assistance but their request for Individual Assistance was denied.

A joint federal, state, and local preliminary damage assessment found damages exceeding $33 million and damage to more than 300 homes. The full letter to President Trump is below:

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States of America

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500-0003

Dear President Trump:

We write in strong support of the State of New York’s appeal of the denial of Individual Assistance to Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer and Oneida counties. Enclosed is a copy of the State’s appeal, which includes additional supporting documentation regarding the widespread damage and flooding caused by heavy rains and strong sustained winds on October 31, 2019 and continued until November 1, 2019.

We are grateful for the federal support afforded in the wake of this disaster to New York thus far, which will assist greatly with the cleanup and remediation of the area. However, we urge the Administration to expeditiously approve New York’s request for Individual Assistance programs within the four aforementioned counties. Federal support is necessary to protect public health and safety and provide relief, like housing assistance, disaster unemployment assistance and crisis counseling, to individuals whose homes were destroyed in this disaster.

These punishing storms caused significant damage across Upstate New York, including sustained damage leading to displaced residents, uninhabitable homes, destroyed roads, and the tragic death of Father J. Thomas Connery of Glenville, NY. A joint federal, state, and local Preliminary Damage Assessment began on November 18, 2019 and found that damages exceeded $33 million and that heavy rainfall, flash flooding, and strong winds damaged over 300 homes, 18 of which were destroyed. People in our communities have lost everything, from their homes to businesses, and are desperately in need of any and all help we can provide.

Reflecting the statewide damage from these heavy rains and strong sustained winds, Governor Andrew Cuomo requested that you declare a major disaster on November 26, 2019, pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 93-288). We were pleased that your Administration approved New York’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration and agreed to provide Public Assistance to impacted counties on December 19, 2019. However, we remain disappointed that the Administration denied New York’s request for Individual Assistance on December 20, 2019. We believe more federal support is necessary for the families impacted by this disaster.

We strongly support the State of New York’s request for Individual Assistance in the areas impacted by this storm event.  We appreciate your swift attention and consideration of this request and stand ready to work with you and Federal Emergency Management Agency to deliver support and resources to the impacted individuals and communities.

Sincerely,

                                                                                                                                   

Charles E. Schumer                                                                       Kirsten Gillibrand

United States Senator                                                                 United States Senator

                                                                                                                                               

Anthony Brindisi                                                                           Elise Stefanik

Member of Congress                                                                     Member of Congress

 



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