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FEMA Funds Via the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Will Fund Replacement of Doors, Louvers & Windows at Nine Buildings at RUMC to Reduce Damage & Ensure Uninterrupted Service in the Event of a Future Storm

Schumer, Gillibrand, Donovan Supported & Advocated on Behalf of RUMC for These HMGP Funds; Lawmakers Say Continuity of Service is Crucial Because During Irene & Sandy, RUMC Was the Only Open & Functioning Hospital on Staten Island

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Dan Donovan today announced $14,503,818 in federal funding for Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC). The funding is being provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) hazard mitigation grant program (HMGP). The grant will fund the replacement of doors, louvers and windows at nine buildings at RUMC. The new doors, louvers, and windows will reduce the damage and potential future losses to RUMC during future high wind events, which will help ensure continuity of service at the hospital in the event of a future storm.

“During Superstorm Sandy, Staten Island was literally cut off from the other boroughs, placing extreme stress on intra-borough infrastructure including RUMC, which was the only functioning hospital within the borough,” said Senator Schumer. “This $14 million hazard mitigation project will help provide much-needed upgrades at RUMC to ensure the hospital is better protected in the event of a future storm and can continue to operate and provide critical medical care to those in-need during catastrophic events. I am pleased that FEMA recognized the importance of RUMC’s hazard mitigation application and has provided these much-needed federal funds. Supporting mitigation efforts, like this one, will be vital when the next disaster comes our way.”

“This critical FEMA funding will help provide much needed resources to facilitate repairs to the Richmond University Medical Center,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Superstorm Sandy devastated our communities and these funds will help secure and reinforce the medical center, giving peace of mind to the thousands of New Yorkers that it will be ready to withstand the next storm. Securing these funds remains an essential part of our ongoing recovery to help rebuild our infrastructure on Staten Island and safeguard an important lifeline for patients and families in the community.” 

“Resiliency investments protect infrastructure and save lives, period. Superstorm Sandy killed dozens of New Yorkers and caused tens of billions of dollars in damages – it’s responsible governance to spend money for protective investments now to avoid catastrophe in the future. As Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, I intend to make this concept a focal point of my work,” said Rep. Donovan.

“During Superstorm Sandy we learned that so many vital services on Staten Island were vulnerable to extreme weather, including our medical facilities. Ensuring that hardworking staff is able to continue to treat patients during even the most violent storms is an essential function of these facilities. The funding we are announcing today will enable Richmond University Medical Center to operate at the highest possible capacity at all times, and will protect its infrastructure from potential interruptions in the future. I want to thank Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Congressman Donovan, and FEMA for their hard work on securing this grant, and look forward to making sure these improvements are made in a timely manner,” said Assemblyman Cusick.

Daniel J. Messina, Ph.D., FACHE, LNHA, President & Chief Executive Officer said, “As the only hospital on Staten Island to remain open and accessible during both Irene and Sandy, we recognize the importance of fortifying our campus against future storms. We’re grateful for the continued leadership and strong advocacy from Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Donovan.  This grant will be vital in our efforts to ensure our campus is able to meet the needs of our community in a future weather emergency.”

During Superstorm Sandy various weaknesses were revealed in the Staten Island hospital system, which consists of Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) and two Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) campuses. Immediately before and after landfall, all bridges to Staten Island were closed, cutting the Island off from the other boroughs. As both SIUH campuses are in Flood Zone A, RUMC was the only open and functioning hospital on Staten Island during the storm. The result was increased stress on RUMC's emergency room, which was left to process and treat twenty patients per hour, five times its normal patient load. This experience was not limited to Superstorm Sandy. During Hurricane Irene, both SIUH campuses were ordered to close and evacuate patients, leaving Staten Island with .9 hospital beds per 1000 people, well below its regular 2.2 per 1000 capacity, already the lowest of the five boroughs.

In 2013, Schumer and former Borough President James Molinaro urged FEMA to tour RUMC and SIUH to provide feedback on mitigation measures necessary to protect Staten Island’s hospital system against future storms. In June 2013, FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer toured the hospitals and recommended the HMGP program to RUMC.

FEMA’s hazard mitigation grant program provides funding under Section 406 of the Stafford Act, the federal disaster law that supplies aid to states and localities to implement long-term resiliency measures after a major disaster. The purpose of these grants is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster. Normally, without these grants, FEMA will only provide enough funds for a locality to rebuild using the same specifications as the original structure.

Schumer, Gillibrand, and Donovan today said that the $14 million in HMGP infrastructure upgrades at RUMC will help ensure uninterrupted service at RUMC in the event of a future storm or disaster. Schumer, Gillibrand, and Donovan worked hard to secure these funds and advocated on behalf of RUMC. The lawmakers said that this mitigation project will be vital when the next disaster hits the borough.