SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND, HIGGINS, COLLINS URGE FEMA TO BE READY TO SWIFTLY APPROVE DISASTER DECLARATION FOR ERIE COUNTY & OTHER WNY COUNTIES IMPACTED BY HISTORIC SNOWSTORM
Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins, Collins Write to FEMA Urging Fed Agency To Be Ready To Act On a Disaster Declaration To Help Reimburse WNY Counties that Are Still In Midst Of Massive Snowstorm; FEMA Funds Would Help Cover Clean-Up & Recovery Costs
FEMA Disaster Declaration Would Make Available Disaster Assistance Funds for Counties Like Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Genesee & Wyoming
Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins, Collins: Federal Agencies Must Do All They Can To Support WNY Communities Devastated By Snow
Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representatives Brian Higgins and Chris Collins urged FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to be ready to swiftly approve any request from New York State for federal support and resources for the ongoing snow removal effort in Western New York. County officials have said they expect the cost of this disaster to meet the criteria needed for federal support, and, if it does, New York State will be able to seek a federal disaster declaration that would open the region up to receive federal funding. Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins and Collins are requesting FEMA be ready to quickly approve any disaster declaration for the impacted counties, including Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Genesee & Wyoming if it qualifies.
In their letter, Schumer, Gillibrand, Collins and Higgins write: “We are grateful for the prompt attention that you and the entire federal government have given to quickly responding to disasters impacting New York State, and for your commitment to cutting bureaucratic red-tape so that assistance can be provided as quickly and efficiently as possible. In that spirit, we strongly urge you to swiftly recommend that the President make a disaster declaration, and implement all federal programs activated by that declaration.”
A copy of the letter to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate is included below:
Dear Administrator Fugate:
We write in strong support of communities across Western New York that were recently impacted by the severe snow storm. New York State is currently in the process of assessing the damage, and should that damage meet a level where the state requests a major disaster declaration for Erie County, Chautauqua County, Cattaraugus County, Genesee County, Wyoming County, and other impacted counties, we urge you to swiftly implement the federal programs activated by the President’s approval of the request.
On November 18, New York declared a state of emergency for ten counties in advance of what will likely end up being one of the worst snowstorms that Western New York has ever seen. Some areas in South Buffalo and the surrounding communities have already seen more than six feet of snow in just 36 hours, and the snow is expected to continue to fall. Many school districts remain closed, and a large number of travel bans are still in effect. Hundreds of motorists were forced to abandon their cars on roadways, many after being stranded for hours, and at least eight Western New Yorkers have lost their lives. With snow piles over six feet, conventional plows are unable to clear the roads, so high lifts, pay loaders, and dump trucks are required to move the snow to designated areas. New York State officials are still evaluating the extent of the damage, but it is expected that the total costs will be substantial, between overtime for plow drivers, sanding the roads, and repairing other general damage across the area.
Without support of this disaster declaration through the powers afforded to you in the Stafford Act, the state will have an even more difficult time recovering from the constant impact of a recent string of disasters. The state has yet to fully recover from Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and Superstorm Sandy, and we believe that federal assistance is necessary to preserve the safety of our citizens and to protect our infrastructure from future disasters. We are grateful for the prompt attention that you and the entire federal government have given to quickly responding to disasters impacting New York State, and for your commitment to cutting bureaucratic red-tape so that assistance can be provided as quickly and efficiently as possible. In that spirit, we strongly urge you to swiftly recommend that the President make a disaster declaration, and implement all federal programs activated by that declaration.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Representative Brian Higgins
Representative Chris Collins