SCHUMER LAUNCHES EFFORT TO SECURE CRITICAL FED FUNDING TO GET INNOVATIVE, LONG-TERM FLOOD PROTECTION PROJECT IN SIDNEY OFF THE GROUND – PLAN WOULD REDUCE DAMAGE FROM FUTURE FLOODING & AVOID VILLAGE HAVING TO FIGHT SAME BATTLE AGAINST FLOOD WATERS YEAR AFTER YEAR
Schumer Pushes FEMA to Be Ready to Approve Village’s Request for $22 Million to Fund Second Phase of Project; Would Mitigate Flooding and Protect Neighborhoods & Business from Future Damage – Schumer Helped Secure Disaster Declaration for Sidney That Has Already Unlocked $7M for Necessary Property Buyouts To Move Residents Out of Harm’s Way
Village of Sidney’s History of Devastating Flooding, Most Recently in 2011, Left 420 Buildings Damaged – Lower River Street Neighborhood’s Proximity to Susquehanna River & Weir Creek Make Potential Flooding A Constant Threat
Schumer to FEMA: Flood Mitigation Efforts In Sidney Should Be High Priority
Today, at the Sidney Village Hall, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer visited with Village Leaders to push for federal funding for the “Sidney GreenPlain” that will help mitigate flooding risk by creating 140 acres of green space used for storm water storage where the Lower River Street Neighborhood, which is at constant risk for flooding, stands now. In total, throughout the Village of Sidney 420 buildings were damaged by massive flooding that took place in 2011, and 40% of residents live in high-risk flood zones. Because of this history of flooding, Schumer, who helped secure the disaster declaration unlocking federal funding to buy out 135 local properties, said that the Village’s flood mitigation efforts should be a major priority and he will push the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be ready to approve the Village’s request for $22 million to make the project a reality. Schumer said that this project is necessary to protect residents and ensure they do not need to fight the same battle against flooding year after year.
“Sidney's GreenPlain plan is ambitious and merits the full support of the federal government to make it a reality. Moving residents out of a high-risk flood zone and developing all new protections against future flooding should go a long way in helping local residents avoid having to fight the same battle year after year,” said Schumer. “I have made it clear to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate that this project is a priority for Sidney and a priority for me, and that he should be ready to approve the funding that is needed when the project hits his desk. I have seen too many projects get lost in the gears of bureaucracy and do not want this one to suffer the same fate.”
During his visit to Sidney, Schumer urged FEMA to be ready to expeditiously approve the Village’s request for $22 million through its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to help protect the Village of Sidney from future flooding. The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provides grants to states and localities to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster. These funds represent a major step in Sidney’s flood mitigation efforts to ensure a secure future, as many parts of the village are susceptible to extreme weather, as demonstrated by the flooding in 2006 and again during Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. Schumer explained that, following these unprecedented flooding events in 2006 and 2011, Sidney was left with hundreds of millions of damage done to its residential, commercial and public entities. A hazard mitigation project like the Sidney GreenPlain will help to prevent this type of damage from happening again.
Following the 2006 flooding, 12 New York State Counties, including Delaware County, were impacted and declared federal disaster areas. Sidney and surrounding areas sustained millions in damage and lost sales and more than 1,000 homes were negatively affected. Damage to New York State, including Delaware County. Following the 2011 Tropical Storm Lee, nine New York State Counties, including Delaware County, were declared federal disaster areas. Schumer explained that tens of thousands of Southern Tier residents applied for disaster assistance following this storm. In Delaware County alone, 422 properties were damaged, with the hardest hit being the over 100 properties in the Lower River Street neighborhood in Sidney.
The disaster declaration Schumer helped secure following Tropical Storm Lee in 2011 enabled Sidney to unlock nearly $7 million in federal funding for necessary property buyouts in the Lower River Street neighborhood. However, in addition to this, the Village of Sidney plans to take further steps toward developing this flood prone neighborhood, and has developed a multipronged, innovative plan to rebuild, recover and protect its population from future flooding. The Village has applied for $22 million in federal funding to make this plan a reality and the request for funding should be heading to FEMA soon. Because the Village of Sidney is located at the meeting point of the Susquehanna River and Weir Creek, it is constantly at risk of major flooding and, therefore, the focus of this project will remain on the mitigation of future flood events. This new plan, known as the Sidney “GreenPlain,” will help mitigate flooding risk by re-locating residents to less flood-prone areas and creating 140 acres of green space.
It is expected that the New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services will submit the GreenPlain project to FEMA for their approval soon, which is why Schumer is urging FEMA to be ready to expedite its review and approval of the funds needed to make this project a reality. If approved, this project would replace the extremely flood prone Lower River Street Neighborhood adjacent to Weir Creek and the Susquehanna River in Sidney, which is currently undergoing the FEMA buyout process with Schumer-supported funds. Because of FEMA stipulations for buyout funds, only greenspace will be allowed to remain where these properties stood. Therefore the Village intends to create four distinct mitigation areas comprised of channels and storage pools that will allow for floodwater storage and protect residents in future flood events.
Schumer has been a long-standing partner in Delaware County’s efforts to combat flood damage and disaster. After the 2006 and 2011 storms, Schumer fought hard to secure the federal funding that would allow Sidney and Delaware County to recover and recoup damages. Following the 2006 flooding, Schumer successfully pushed for the federal disaster declaration that allowed thousands to apply for assistance. He also successfully secured approval from FEMA to bring in temporary housing units for Broome, Delaware and Otsego Counties. In 2008, Schumer secured $300,000 in Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations Bill funding for flood protection measures in the Village of Sidney, which included of infrastructure repairs to village pump stations and flap gates. Following the 2011 flooding, Schumer again successfully pushed for the federal disaster declaration that allowed thousands to apply for assistance. He also helped author the provision in the Federal Disaster Aid Bill in 2012 that provided $200 million in Economic Development Administration (EDA) funding to help fund key economic growth projects in counties hammered by natural disasters. Schumer then secured $3.8 million in EDA Disaster Funding for the Delaware County IDA that provided critical support to relocated Amphenol Aerospace employees and residents within the Village of Sidney and successfully retained 950 area jobs. Finally, nearly $7 million in FEMA HMGP funds were unlocked thanks to Schumer’s support of the federal disaster declaration following Tropical Storm Lee to buy out over 100 flood damaged properties in the Lower River Street neighborhood in Sidney.
Schumer was joined by Village of Sidney Mayor Andy Matviak and Village Trustees.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to FEMA appears below:
Dear Administrator Fugate:
I write you today in support of the Village of Sidney’s application for $22 million in funding under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to flood proof the Lower River Street neighborhood. The New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services is currently reviewing the application, but I urge you to approve it quickly once it arrives at your desk. As you know, the Village and the rest of the Southern Tier of New York State were decimated by flooding in 2006 and again during Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. Flood mitigation is a high priority across the Southern Tier; Sidney’s plan is exemplary.
I thank you for your attention to the almost $7 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant funding already awarded to buy out flood damaged properties in the Lower River Street neighborhood. The current application for funding would go toward developing this flood prone neighborhood into the Sidney GreenPlain. The Sidney GreenPlain will absorb water from the adjacent Weir Creek and Susquehanna River in a flood event using a series of channels and storage areas where the homes once stood. It will greatly reduce the amount of water that would inundate Sidney and the surrounding communities. Not only will it be used as flood infrastructure, it will also be used for recreation, making it a two-pronged asset to the community.
The GreenPlain is just one of many steps the Village of Sidney is undertaking to keep constituents safe and reduce future costs of storms, including the subsequent relocation of the homes to a more flood safe location in the Village. Their plan ultimately would make their community virtually flood proof. This funding would go a long way toward revitalizing Sidney, which is already an integral part of the Southern Tier and New York State economy housing major employers like Amphenol Aerospace and ACCO Brands.
I commend Mayor Matviak and the Village for their foresight. I sincerely hope this application for funding meets with your approval. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator