SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND PUSH PRESIDENT BIDEN TO SWIFTLY APPROVE DISASTER DECLARATION FOLLOWING SEVERE FLOODING FROM TROPICAL STORM FRED IN UPSTATE NY
Senators Say FEMA Disaster Declaration Would Unlock Federal Funds For Impacted Communities In The Southern Tier, Central New York, Mohawk Valley, And Finger Lakes
Tropical Storm Fred Severely Damaged Homes, Schools, And Businesses; Senators Send Letter To President Urging Disaster Declaration For Federal Assistance
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today sent a letter to President Biden urging him to approve a major disaster declaration in Upstate New York following severe flooding caused by the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred that rampaged through the Southern Tier, Central New York, and the Finger Lakes regions on August 18, 2021 until the morning of August 19, 2021. In order to receive money from FEMA, the State of New York conducted a Preliminary Damage Assessment in coordination with FEMA and on September 17, 2021, Governor Kathy Hochul requested a major disaster declaration, pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. The request now requires Presidential approval. Federal assistance through FEMA would support State, local governments, disaster relief organizations, and compensation by insurance for disaster-related losses.
“Tropical Storm Fred ravaged Upstate New York and caused severe damage across the Southern Tier, Central New York, the Mohawk Valley, and Finger Lakes regions,” said Senator Schumer. “This immense damage totaled over $30 million in costs suffered and demands swift help from the federal government to help communities repair and recover. I strongly urge FEMA to approve New York State’s request for a disaster declaration as soon as possible.”
“Tropical Storm Fred caused significant damage due to heavy rain and strong winds in Central New York, the Southern Tier, the Finger Lakes Region, and the Mohawk Valley. New York State has now been hit by three major storms in just the past few months. Coupled with the ongoing economic impacts of COVID-19, New Yorkers are facing crises on multiple fronts,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am asking FEMA to promptly approve the disaster declaration and urgently needed federal assistance for state and local governments. We can’t afford to wait any longer.”
“The damage from this storm is the most severe we have seen in a generation and our residents, businesses, and governments desperately need federal assistance that would come from this declaration. We are also extremely grateful to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and our state representatives for their support and advocacy in this trying time,” said Jack K. Wheeler, Steuben County Manager.
Schumer and Gillibrand said a joint federal, state, and local Preliminary Damage Assessment to the impacted areas of Upstate NY revealed that costs exceeded $36.2 million in public infrastructure damage. The senators said the impact to the storm was substantial causing major damage and the relocation of students for the start of the school year in the Jasper-Troupsburg High School in Steuben County and Staley Elementary School in the City of Rome in Oneida County. In Steuben County alone, joint FEMA-State assessment teams identified damage to at least 122 homes and 26 businesses with a value of more than $3 million.
Specifically, the request included Public Assistance for Allegany, Cayuga, Cortland, Lewis, Oneida, Steuben, Tioga, and Yates counties and Individual Assistance for the Individuals and Households Program including Other Needs Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Disaster Case Management, Disaster Legal Services, and SBA Disaster Assistance for Steuben County.
A copy of Schumer and Gillibrand’s letter appears below:
Dear President Biden:
We write in strong support of the State of New York’s request for a major disaster declaration for the widespread damage and flooding caused by heavy rains on August 18, 2021 and continued until the morning of August 19, 2021.
This severe storm caused significant damage across Upstate New York, including sustained damage leading to displaced residents, uninhabitable homes, the closure of schools, destroyed roads, and the tragic loss of life. A joint federal, state, and local Preliminary Damage Assessment revealed that costs exceeded $36.2 million in public infrastructure damage.
Reflecting the statewide damage from these heavy rains and flooding, Governor Kathy Hochul requested a major disaster declaration on September 17, 2021, pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 93-288), including Hazard Mitigation Grant Programs statewide and Public Assistance for Allegany, Cayuga, Cortland, Lewis, Oneida, Steuben, Tioga, and Yates counties and Individual Assistance for the Individuals and Households Program including Other Needs Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Disaster Case Management, Disaster Legal Services, and SBA Disaster Assistance for Steuben County.
There is no doubt that this damage has overwhelmed state and local governments, and that a major disaster declaration is necessary. Federal assistance programs will be critical, so that our communities can recover from the flood damage. We thank the Governor and the State for their work thus far and strongly support the request for a major disaster declaration 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 the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to deliver support and resources to the impacted communities.