01.28.16

SCHUMER: ONEIDA RESIDENTS DEVASTATED BY FLOOD HAVE BEEN WAITING SINCE 2013 FOR CRITICAL BUYOUTS, TO ALLOW THEM TO FINALLY MOVE OUT OF UNSAFE, FLOOD-PRONE AREA – SCHUMER URGES FEMA TO FULFILL PROMISE & GIVE BUYOUTS FINAL STAMP OF APPROVAL ASAP

In 2013, Excessive Rains Caused The Oneida Creek To Overflow, Flooding Neighborhoods In The City Of Oneida, Located In Madison County, And Forcing Residents From Their Homes – 156 Properties Were Damaged Beyond Repair

FEMA Has Announced Their Intent to Acquire and Demolish Homes in the Flood-Prone Area, Which Will Provide Residents With The Funding To Move Out Of Flood-Prone Area & Help Prevent Future Flooding Damage – Schumer Urges Feds to Expedite Final Sign-Off

Schumer: City Of Oneida Cannot Wait Any Longer; FEMA Needs To Provide Final Sign-Off on Buyouts ASAP

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to issue final approval for the plan to buy out flood-damaged properties in the City of Oneida, located in Madison County. After more than one hundred properties in the City of Oneida were damaged by the severe flooding of the Oneida Creek in 2013, residents of the City submitted requests to have their homes purchased, demolished, and turned into open space where further development could not occur. The applications have been submitted to FEMA, which indicated their intent in December to buy out the 156 properties in this flood-ravaged area. Schumer explained that the community has been left in limbo while it waits for the federal agency’s final sign-off. As a result, Schumer urged FEMA to expeditiously issue a final approval of the buyout deal and provide funding, which would allow the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to contract with the City and allow the City of Oneida to buy the properties and demolish them as they prepare the land for future use.

“It has been more than two years since Oneida Creek overflowed its banks and destroyed buildings and homes in the surrounding area. In the aftermath of this devastation, many homeowners applied for a buyout of their properties that were damaged beyond repair, and FEMA has agreed to provide the necessary funding. But residents are still waiting for final sign-off– and it is high time we put the feds on notice that we cannot wait any longer,” said Schumer. “The City of Oneida and the 150 plus victims of this terrible flood need relief, and they need it now. I am pushing FEMA to issue the final approvals and funding so this community can move forward.”

Schumer said this buyout would provide relief for the residents who have been forced from their homes, assist those residents in rebuilding as well as help it prevent further damage to Oneida area properties. Schumer explained that these residents have been waiting for the buyouts for more than two years since the flooding occurred, and that final approvals are needed as soon as possible to allow residents to return back to normal and to prevent this disastrous flooding from happening again.

In 2013, massive amounts of rain caused the Oneida Creek to overflow its banks, with crests of over seventeen feet. The water flooded the “Flats” neighborhood in the Fourth Ward of the City of Oneida. The neighborhood was covered in six feet of water, forcing many residents to flee their homes. Schumer explained that this flooding destroyed 156 properties and the belongings of the families that lived there.

Following this devastation, the New York Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services asked for federal help, and proposed that FEMA provide assistance so the City could buy out the damaged and destroyed homes, and demolish them to create open space. Last year, FEMA officially issued a letter of intent to pursue the buyouts in the City of Oneida. However, Schumer said, FEMA has not yet given the plan final approval needed to make this buyout possible. As a result, none of these buyouts have proceeded yet. Therefore, Schumer is pushing FEMA to act quickly to provide this relief for flood victims in the City of Oneida. More than two years following the storm, many residents are still struggling to rebuild.

Once the properties are purchased by the municipality, the homes are demolished and the property designated as open space. According to local and state officials, residents participating in the buyout program will receive 100 percent of the cost of their property, based upon the property’s fair market value prior to the flood.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to FEMA appears below:

Dear Administrator Fugate:

I write to urge you to issue final approval for the buyouts in the City of Oneida as quickly as possible, and to ensure that homeowners receive the maximum possible amount of funding to which they are entitled.

As you know, excessive rainfall in June 2013 caused the Oneida Creek to crest at over seventeen feet and to flood into homes in “the flats” neighborhood in the fourth ward of the city. Areas in the flats were covered with up to six feet of water. Many residents were forced to evacuate their homes when they were inundated with floodwaters. Homes and belongings were severely damaged or destroyed altogether in the flooding.

The New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services submitted a request for the acquisition and demolition of 156 properties in the City of Oneida last year. In December, FEMA indicated its intent to buy out the properties, and began moving the proposal through the public comment and final approval process. I appreciate FEMA’s attention to this important proposal, and I urge FEMA to complete its review and approve the application as expeditiously as possible and to ensure that the community members receive the maximum possible amount of funding to which they are due. The buyouts of these flood-prone properties will serve as a way to permanently remove these homes from the floodplain, and create open space where future development will be prohibited.

More than two years after the disaster, residents are still working to rebuild, and these buyouts will go a long way toward helping residents return back to normal and moving homes out of this vulnerable, low-lying area to ensure that this disastrous flooding of these homes does not happen again. Thank you again for your attention to this important issue. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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