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Schumer, Gillibrand, Ryan Say The Full Force Of The Federal Government Needs To Get Behind Hudson Valley To Give It The Financial Support It Needs To Recover From Extreme Flooding – And That Starts With A Major Disaster Declaration 

With West Point Not Included In Potential FEMA Aid, And USACE Already Providing Preliminary Estimates Of Damage On Base At Over $100 Million And Costs Rising, Reps Pledge Full Support To Ensure West Point Has All Resources Needed To Recover  

Reps: We Need Full Force Of Federal Government To The Help Hudson Valley & West Point, The Pillar Of America’s Army, Recover After Thousand Year Flood Event

With Orange County and West Point only just beginning to recover after heavy rains and extreme flash flooding devastated the Hudson Valley last week, today U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, along with Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Pat Ryan, personally visited affected areas in Highland Falls, West Point, and across Orange County, doubling down on their two-pronged push to support West Point through the Army as it faces over $100 million in initial damages and to secure a Major Disaster Declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help Hudson Valley communities from Cornwall to Highland Falls get on the road to recovery.

“The historic buildings of West Point are a symbol of our country’s proud military history, but last week this pillar of the Hudson Valley was ravaged by a once in a generation flood that left its buildings and training grounds to sit destroyed with over $100 million in estimated damage already. After seeing the devastation at West Point and around Orange County today firsthand, it is clear that these communities desperately need help, and we need all federal hands on deck to help West Point and the Hudson Valley start on the long road to recovery,” said Senator Schumer. “First, we need a Major Disaster Declaration from FEMA now so Hudson Valley communities like Cornwall and Highland Falls have the resources and help needed to rebuild stronger than ever before. Second, as Majority Leader I am committed to getting West Point all the federal resources it needs to rise from the waters and stand proud once again. We must get West Point, the Hudson Valley and communities across Upstate NY the help they need ASAP — it is time for the feds to get all hands on deck and boost resources to help our communities recover from this once in a generation flood.”

“West Point sustained significant damage during last week’s storms,” said Senator Gillibrand. “After seeing the devastation firsthand today, I’m committed to doing everything I can to get the maximum amount of federal aid to the area as soon as possible and making sure West Point rebuilds stronger.”

 “After surveying the devastation across Orange County today, it’s clear we need rapid and robust federal support. I will continue fighting and pushing until all of our families, small businesses, and local governments get the resources they need to recover and rebuild,” said Congressman Pat Ryan. “As a West Point graduate, I was especially shocked to see the significant destruction across campus, including the barracks and athletic facilities. We need all-hands-on-deck to restore this crucial American institution.”

Specifically, after witnessing widespread damages from the July 9th flash floods during their visit with senior Army and Orange County officials, Schumer, Gillibrand, and Ryan emphasized the urgency of the situation, calling for swift federal assistance in two critical areas. First, because West Point is a federal military installation, it is not included in potential FEMA aid under the “duplication of benefits” restrictions in Section 312 of the Stafford Act, meaning to recover West Point must uniquely seek alternative relief through the U.S. Army’s Installation Management Command. Last week, the representatives called on the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to deploy all available resources to West Point to jumpstart recovery efforts, since then nearly 30 USACE personnel, both on the ground and supporting, have begun working to determine the extent of damage across the base.

According to early preliminary damage assessments from USACE and West Point officials, damage already is totaling to over $100 million, and with costs still being calculated that number could continue to rise. On top of the immense infrastructure damage, including completely washed out and collapsed bridges, dams, and roads, multiple buildings like the Garrison Command, Herbert Hall, Building 620, and Building 624 where several were evacuated after a tree toppled into the building, have sustained structural damage, erosion, and loss of power, with some requiring complete replacement of the lower levels expected to take years to replace.

In addition, at least 130 privatized family homes at the installation suffered water intrusion and other damages as a result of the severe flooding with inspections still underway with at least 20 of those having severe damage. After seeing the devastation firsthand, Schumer, Gillibrand, and Ryan said that the historic West Point campus is a symbol of our country’s proud military history requiring prompt action to mitigate the adverse effects of this disaster felt by cadets, military families, visitors, and West Point’s surrounding communities that rely on the historic base for businesses, education, tourism, and beyond. With this in mind, the delegation pledged to fight to make sure that West Point has access to the resources it needs to recover as soon as possible.

Second, the delegation witnessed the severe damage in Highland Falls and across Orange County, where they emphasized that the community is in urgent need of FEMA assistance to aid in its recovery. On July 14th, New York State formally submitted a request for a Major Disaster Declaration from President Biden to support the ongoing recovery of communities this included Public Assistance for Albany, Clinton, Dutchess, Essex, Hamilton, Ontario, Orange, Oswego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, and Westchester counties, as well as Individual Assistance for Ontario and Orange counties. If a Major Disaster declaration is declared, grant assistance would be made available to state and local governments, as well as certain non-profit organizations, to reimburse costs incurred for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities. A copy of Schumer and Gillibrand’s original letter to President Biden requesting the approval of NY’s Major Disaster Declaration can be found here.

"Last week, Orange County, including West Point and its surrounding areas, experienced a devastating storm, resulting in extensive damage, including flooding in several communities. It also tragically took the life of a young woman. Since then, Orange County has been working tirelessly around the clock to assess the damage and provide aid to the affected local communities. During that time, I have been moved by the work of our first responders and the resilience of our residents, who have taken care of each other. We are grateful for the support and efforts of Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Pat Ryan in advocating for much-needed federal assistance in this challenging time. Together, we’ll continue our relentless efforts to rebuild and support our hard-hit communities. FEMA aid is essential to that process, and we will rebuild smarter and stronger," said Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus.

"I want to personally thank Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Ryan for their unwavering support in securing federal assistance for West Point and its surrounding communities. As the union president of the West Point Fire Department, I deeply understand the critical importance of federal funding, which directly impacts our ability to protect and serve our community. The tireless efforts of Senator Schumer and Congressman Ryan in acquiring funding for our department's new equipment played a crucial role in our successful rescue missions during the flood crisis. I am grateful for their commitment to our community's safety and well-being. With their continued support, we will overcome this adversity and emerge stronger than ever before," said Conor Miller, West Point Fire Department.

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act authorizes the president to issue “Major Disaster” or “Emergency” declarations after catastrophes occur. The decision to issue a disaster declaration is at the discretion of the president, and must be requested by the governor of the state. These declarations unlock federal aid through FEMA that is broken into two broad areas: Individual Assistance (IA) that aids families and individuals, and Public Assistance (PA) that is mainly for emergency work such as debris removal and permanent repairs to infrastructure. Schumer, Gillibrand and Ryan have all written to President Biden directly urging him to immediately approve the Major Disaster declaration for New York and said this is the imperative first step to unlocking federal relief for the Hudson Valley communities to recover from the storm.

Schumer and Ryan have a long history of delivering for West Point. Just a few months ago, after sounding the alarm on budget shortfalls that beleaguered the West Point Fire Department, Schumer and Ryan secured a massive $1.8 million budget increase for the West Point firefighter to purchase desperately needed new emergency response equipment. This equipment replaced aging supplies that put the firefighters’ safety at risk, including new dry suits which were used over the past few days for water rescues at a nearby nursing home by the West Point firefighters during the recent flooding.