05.26.11

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND URGE PRESIDENT AND USDA TO SWIFTLY DECLARE NEW YORK COUNTIES FEDERAL DISASTER AREAS; STORMS CAUSED $38 MILLION IN DAMAGE TO LAND, CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE, AND FARMS

Schumer, Gillibrand Push FEMA to Speed Up Disaster Declaration in Twenty-Six NY Counties Following States Request, Severe Rain and Flooding Have Caused Severe and Widespread Land and Property Damage Senators Also Ask USDA Secretary To Provide Immediate Assistance To Farmers Who Have Been Unable To Plant Their CropsSchumer, Gillibrand Write to President And Agriculture Secretary for Immediate Individual and Public Assistance for Impacted Counties

 

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand wrote to President Barack Obama and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, urging the immediate approval of New York State's recent request for a federal disaster declaration in response to the April 26 th storms that caused more than $38 million in debris removal costs and damage to critical infrastructure. The affected counties include Allegany, Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Washington, Warren, and Yates. The Senators also wrote to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, urging him to immediately grant the state's request for disaster assistance to farmers who have been affected by a series of extreme spring storms.

"All across the state, the severe rains and flooding have caused millions of dollars of damage to land, residences, and critical infrastructure," said Schumer. "I urge President Obama and FEMA officials to immediately issue a disaster declaration for the twentysix counties affected by the April 26 th storm, because the bottom line is that residents and counties should not and cannot shoulder this financial burden on their own. Severe weather has also kept farmers across the state from planting their crops on time, putting their final harvest at risk. USDA should immediately provide the disaster assistance that Upstate farmers deserve."  

"In the wake of these devastating storms, these New Yorkers should not be left shouldering all of the burden," Senator Gillibrand said. "We need FEMA to step in immediately so we can provide relief to the families, farms and businesses hit by this storm. I urge FEMA to expedite New York State's request for a federal disaster declaration so we can deliver help to families on the ground."

 

FEMA and New York State Office of Emergency Management (NYSOEM) have made several assessments of the damage, and have jointly estimated that the April 26, 2011, storms caused more than $38 million in debris removal costs and damage to critical infrastructure, including major roads and bridges. Damage assessment teams also estimate that the massive storm inflicted damage upon more than 1,000 residences, destroying at least fourteen homes in the process.

 

The state is currently seeking aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance for the following categories of aid: 1) Individual Assistance for citizens who suffered losses, including the Individual and Households program, disaster unemployment insurance, and Small Business Administration loans; and 2) Public Assistance to reimburse communities for debris removal, emergency response efforts and restoration of public infrastructure to counties in New York State.

 

The state has also requested USDA agricultural disaster designation which would make farmers in disaster counties eligible for emergency loans and funding through the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE). 

A copy of the Senators' letters to President Barack Obama and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, appears below:

May 25, 2011

 

The Honorable Barack H. Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

 

The Honorable W. Craig Fugate

Administrator

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Department of Homeland Security

Washington, DC 20472

 

Dear President Obama and Administrator Fugate:

 

We write today to urge the expeditious approval of New York State's recent request for a federal disaster declaration in response to the heavy rain and severe flooding that struck twentysix New York counties on April 26, 2011. The affected counties include Allegany, Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Washington, Warren, and Yates.

 

Joint assessments conducted by FEMA and New York State Office of Emergency Management (NYSOEM) estimate that the April 26, 2011, storms caused more than $38 million in debris removal costs and damage to critical infrastructure, including major roads and bridges. Damage assessment teams also estimate that the massive storm inflicted damage upon more than 1,000 residences, destroying at least fourteen homes in the process.

 

Given these estimates, New York has requested Public Assistance for twentyone counties including Allegany, Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario Steuben, Tioga, Ulster, Warren, and Yates. FEMA's Public Assistance program provides assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement, or restoration of disasterdamaged, public owned facilities and certain nonprofit organizations. New York has also requested individual assistance. FEMA Individual Assistance programs provide emergency housing, financial assistance, and crisis counseling.

 

It is apparent that New York State has surpassed both state and per capita threshold requirements, and we wholeheartedly support the State's request for Public Assistance, Individual Assistance, and the implementation of statewide Hazard Mitigation support.

 

            We urge you to quickly approve New York State's disaster declaration request and thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to working with you to secure every possible resource to assist those New Yorkers as they recover from this storm.

 

 

Secretary Tom Vilsack

U.S. Department of Agriculture 
1400 Independence Ave., S.W. 
Washington, DC 20250

 

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

 

We ask that disaster assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture be provided to Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Cortland, Erie, Lewis, Niagara, Oneida, Ontario, Oswego, Schuyler, Seneca, Tompkins, Wayne and Yates Counties, New York in order to aid to the farmers who were significantly impacted by recent extreme weather. 

 

Upstate New York was struck by several bouts of severe weather this spring including excessive rain, flooding, hail and high winds. These storms have wreaked havoc for farmers trying to put their crops in the ground or protect what they have already sown.  This April was the rainiest April on record in western and central New York with more than 5.8 inches of rainfall in the Rochester region alone, which is more than twice the norm.  Farmers across upstate New York have been forced to delay plantings which can lead to lower yields this season.

 

Due to this severe situation affecting the farming community and the local economy across Upstate New York, we ask that you provide disaster assistance in an expedited manner. 



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