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Flooding From Second Tropical Storm Has Damaged Utica Roads, Businesses & Homes Throughout The Region

To Repair The Damage And Help Homeowners and Small Business Owners Get Back On Their Feet, Schumer Will Fight To Secure As Much FEMA Assistance As Possible

Schumer: New York Has Been Hit With Heavy Flooding Again, The Federal Government Must Lend a Helping Hand


Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer visited Whitesboro to get a firsthand look at the flood damage from the most recent tropical storm to hit the Utica region. Schumer toured Sauquoit Street in the village as well as damaged homes in the area, alongside Whitesboro Mayor Brenda Gilberti, Utica Mayor David Roefaro, Oneida County Executive Picente and county emergency management personnel. During a tour of the damage, Schumer spoke with local officials about the federal government's assistance thus far, and was fully briefed on the community's additional needs from the federal government. Schumer is pushing for a boost in funding for the federal Disaster Relief Fund so that New York can tap into federal funds to help finance the recovery effort. In light of this second storm, Schumer is pushing for last week's emergency declaration to be upgraded to a major disaster declaration, which could make Oneida County eligible for both public assistance and individual assistance. Schumer is also pushing for quick passage of an emergency bill to ensure the federal government has enough money to provide disaster assistance.

"The damage here in Utica is expansive and severe, and it's clear we need the full support of the federal government to help get things back on track," said Schumer. "Now that an emergency declaration has been approved, I'm going to leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding additional federal funds to help the Utica region rebuild. FEMA needs to work hand in glove with state and local leaders to make sure our communities have every single tool at their disposal to rebuild roads, bridges, utilities, and other key infrastructure. I will also push for the Disaster Relief Fund to be replenished as quickly as possible so that we can get to work rebuilding New York with all available resources."

In light of this second storm to hit Upstate New York, Schumer is pushing for an upgrade of the current emergency declaration to a major disaster declaration. Schumer is also advocating for a boost in funding for the federal Disaster Relief Fund so that New York can tap into federal funds to help finance the recovery effort immediately. Schumer will push for quick passage of an emergency bill to replenish the Disaster Relief Fund so that funding can be allocated more quickly to Utica homeowners and businesses. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has approved its FY2012 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, which determines how much is allocated to the disaster relief fund, however Schumer is pushing for this separate emergency bill to get these funds to New York more quickly.

The Disaster Relief Fund is used to cover damage sustained in states across the country who are hit by natural disasters, and Schumer is pushing to replenish those funds immediately in light of the damage in the Utica region and throughout New York from this second storm. In addition to financing the recovery from the two recent rounds of flooding in Upstate New York, the Disaster Recovery Fund must cover damages sustained in natural disasters across the country, including the tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri earlier this year. The damage suffered in New York from Hurricane Irene alone is expected to exceed the total amount in the federal account, and Schumer is pushing to ensure that the account is boosted quickly to help fund recovery efforts from the most recent flood in the Utica.

Businesses and homeowners in Utica's Sauquoit Creek Valley were hit hard by heavy rainfall and flooding as a result of the recent Tropical Storm Lee. The nonstop rainfall from this recent storm caused Mohawk Valley residents to evacuate, and Oneida, Herkimer, and Madison Counties declared a state of emergency. In Utica, areas like Brookline and Sunnyside Drive were once again concerned by the rushing waters of the Sauquoit creek and Roosevelt Drive residents braced for another hit from Halleck's Ravine. Luckily, the city was able to contain those waters but the overtime and dredging related costs to do so were staggering. Even Downtown businesses in the Baggs Square area were hit. Matt Hamill's "The Cage" endured several feet of water in the basement. In addition, the damage and flooding may only get worse in the region, as other creeks and rivers are expected to overflow, including the West Canada Creek, and the Mohawk River in Little Falls.

Schumer is also pushing for an upgrade of last week's emergency declaration to a major disaster declaration, which could make impacted counties, including Oneida, eligible for federal public assistance and individual aid. Schumer is seeking to boost the amount of federal funding available so that Utica and the surrounding region can benefit from both individual and public assistance in the wake of Irene. Individual assistance makes funding available to individuals and households, including money for temporary housing and grants to repair damage not covered by a homeowner's insurance policy. In rare conditions, homeowners could receive money to replace a home that was destroyed in the disaster.

Public assistance is federal aid made available to public and certain nonprofit entities for emergency services and the repair or replacement of public facilities damaged in a natural disaster.Qualifying municipalities and entities can use public assistance funding for debris removal and cleanup, emergency protective measures to save lives and prevent further property damage following a storm and to repair washed out and heavily damaged roads and bridges. Local governments can also utilize this source of funding to repair water control facilities including dams and levees, to repair public buildings and equipment damaged from the storm, repair utilities, and repair or restore public parks and other recreational facilities.

Schumer today also pledged to support Utica businesses damaged in the storm who are seeking federal assistance. If a major disaster is declared and counties are designated to receive individual assistance, it would trigger the availability of Small Business Disaster Loans. Under this program, a private business or nonprofit organization that suffered physical damage or sustained an economic injury may be eligible for financial assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration. If the business is located in a declared disaster area, the owner may apply for a longterm, low interest loan to repair or replace damaged property. Even if the property was not damaged, the business owner may apply for a working capital loan from the SBA to relieve the economic injury caused by the disaster. Schumer is encouraging local businesses seeking assistance to contact his office for help navigating available federal aid.

"This most recent round of flooding makes the climb ahead of us even steeper," continued Schumer. "That's why it's more important than ever that we come together as one country, and pass legislation to ensure that homeowners, small business owners, and local governments have the federal resources they need to recover from these storms."

A copy of Senators Schumer and Gillibrand's letter to President Obama and Administrator Fugate in support of FEMA disaster air appears below:

September 9, 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


Federal Emergency Management Agency

US Department of Homeland Security

500 C Street, SW

Washington, DC 20472

Dear President Obama and Administrator Fugate:

            Thank you for approving New York's September 8, 2011 request for an emergency disaster declaration (EM3341). The emergency protective assistance provided under the emergency declaration will help save lives, protect public health and safety, and mitigate damages inflicted by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee. 

As we monitor Tropical Storm Lee damage reports, it is apparent that throughout Broome County, flood waters have crested above those of the historic levels set in 2006. Furthermore, ravines and creeks continue to overflow in Oneida and Herkimer counties, devastating homes and local businesses. As we speak, New York's emergency management teams are conducting damage assessments with FEMA officials. State per capita and per county damage dollar amounts are still being tallied, but it is immediately apparent that New York will meet thresholds required to receive FEMA disaster assistance.

At this time, we urge you to upgrade the September 8, 2011 emergency declaration (EM3341) to a major disaster declaration and support any request submitted by New York to upgrade this declaration. As part of this upgrade, we ask that both public assistance and individual assistance be made available to Albany, Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Greene, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Orange, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, and Ulster counties. Upgrading the declaration would ensure these counties receive federal aid to remove debris, repair public infrastructure, buildings, and utilities, provide housing assistance to individuals, and trigger the availability of disaster loans to small businesses impacted by the storm.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request. Please contact Grant Kerr at  2022246542 or Kevin Fink at  2022244451 if you have questions or need additional information.


Charles E. Schumer                                                      Kirsten E. Gillibrand