06.16.15

SCHUMER URGES FEDS TO BE READY TO IMMEDIATELY APPROVE DISASTER DECLARATION FOR UP TO 14 COUNTIES IN THE SOUTHERN TIER & FINGER LAKES THAT WERE SEVERELY IMPACTED BY LAST WEEKEND’S FLASH FLOODING

Severe Flash Flooding Hit Upstate NY Over The Weekend, Damaging Public Infrastructure and Buildings - Schumer Urges FEMA To Be Ready to Help Up To 14 Southern Tier & Finger Lakes Counties That Experienced Significant Rainfall 

In Event Damage Hits Threshold and NYS Applies For Federal Assistance, FEMA Disaster Declaration Would Allow Communities To Claim Disaster Assistance Funds – Counties Impacted Include Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wyoming & Yates 

Schumer: Fed Agencies Must Work Hand-In-Hand With Flood-Impacted Communities to Ensure Assistance is Swiftly Provided

 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region II Administrator Jerome Hatfield to be ready to immediately approve any request from New York State, should the level of damage meet the federal threshold, for federal support following the weekend’s severe flash flooding. This flooding occurred in 14 Southern Tier and Finger Lakes counties and, if the damage assessment meets the necessary limit for federal aid and New York State requests assistance, Schumer said aid should be expeditiously approved to help residents and business owners recover quickly. Specifically, Schumer requested FEMA be ready to approve a disaster declaration for impacted counties, including Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wyoming, and Yates Counties.

“It is imperative that we get federal resources on the ground so the affected counties can quickly recover and rebuild after this weekend’s severe weather. The last thing the communities should worry about is cutting through red tape in Washington,” said Schumer. “So I’m putting FEMA and all relevant federal agencies on notice now to be ready to approve a federal disaster declaration for impacted communities, farmers, homeowners and businesses. Getting federal aid to Southern Tier and Finger Lakes residents is the first step to starting the rebuilding process.”  

Schumer urged that FEMA immediately approve disaster declaration in the event New York State submits the request. Schumer said we should be doing everything possible on the federal level to ensure resources are available to affected counties in the aftermath of this flash flooding. This weekend’s flooding has already caused the closure of several schools, roads and the heavy rain is expected to continue in the coming days. While estimates of property damage have not yet been finalized, the flooding has damaged public infrastructure and some buildings. If a FEMA Disaster Declaration is requested and approved, impacted counties could receive reimbursement at a 75-25 federal-local cost-share for the cost to repair public infrastructure, undertake emergency protective measures, and remove debris.

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

Dear Regional Administrator Hatfield:

I write in strong support of the communities across Central and Western New York that were recently impacted by severe flooding. New York State is currently in the process of assessing the damage, and should that damage meet a level where the state requests a major disaster declaration for the affected counties, I urge you to swiftly implement the federal programs activated by the President’s approval of the request.

Over the weekend, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued flash flood warnings for Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Wyoming and Yates counties. Early reports indicate that the bulk of the damage sustained was to public infrastructure, and communities have reported heavy damage to bridges and railroad tracks. Multiple roads have been flooded and washed out, closing down roads across the region. Some school districts were also forced to cancel or delay school. According to the National Weather Service, some communities received more than four inches of rain over the course of twenty-four hours.

There have been multiple reports of flooded yards and homes as well, and some residents have been forced to evacuate their homes. While checking on residents in Newfield in Tompkins County, firefighters realized that the last road in or out had been flooded. Firefighters evacuated more than twenty people, who were taken to a shelter at the local high school. The North Spencer Christian Academy of Spencer in Tioga County took in between 4 and 5 feet of standing water, causing significant damage to classrooms, and other facilities. The heavily saturated ground is ripe for localized flooding throughout the week, as heavy rain is forecasted and concern exists for new flash flooding in several counties through Thursday.

I am grateful for the prompt attention that you and the entire federal government have given to quickly responding to disasters impacting New York State, and for your commitment to cutting bureaucratic red tape so that assistance can be provided as quickly and efficiently as possible. In that spirit, I ask you to stand ready to stand ready to recommend approval of any disaster declarations from the state.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator



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