SCHUMER URGES FEDS TO IMMEDIATELY APPROVE SIDNEY’S INNOVATIVE, LONG-TERM FLOOD PROTECTION PROPOSAL– PROJECT WOULD REDUCE FUTURE FLOOD DAMAGE & AVOID COSTLY BATTLE AGAINST FLOOD WATERS YEAR AFTER YEAR
Schumer Previously Pushed FEMA to Be Ready to Approve Village’s Expected Request for $22 Million to Fund Second Phase of Project to Mitigate Flooding and Protect Neighborhoods & Business from Future Damage – Now That The Project Has Been Submitted to FEMA, Schumer Urges Feds to Quickly Approve it
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 Flooding A Constant Threat; Schumer Helped Secure Disaster Declaration for Sidney That Unlocked $7M for Necessary Property Buyouts To Move Residents Out of Harm’s Way
Schumer to FEMA: Approve Sidney’s Innovative and Damage-Preventing Flood Mitigation Proposal ASAP!
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to swiftly review and approve the Village of Sidney's request for $22 million in federal funding for an innovative and essential flood-prevention project. The “Sidney GreenPlain” proposal would 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 that the Village has submitted its proposal to FEMA and agency officials should move quickly to approve it. In December 2014, Schumer wrote to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate urging him to approve the GreenPlain project as soon as it hit his desk. Now that this proposal has hit the federal agency’s desk, Schumer says FEMA should expeditiously approve this proposal so that the critical mitigation project can get underway as soon as possible and not be held up in bureaucracy.
“Sidney's GreenPlain plan tackles their neighborhood's flooding problem head-on, which is why the federal government should promptly review and approve this ambitious plan. Year after year residents are forced to develop short-term fixes against flooding. But with this plan the Village of Sidney would finally be able to move residents out of high-risk flood zones and develop long-term protections against future flooding to avoid facing the problem every single year,” said Schumer. “That's why I am urging FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to move quickly and approve the funds that would make this project a reality. I have seen too many projects get lost in the grinding gears of bureaucracy and do not want this one to suffer the same fate.”
“I am happy that this project has been submitted to FEMA and hope it meets with their approval. We are very appreciative of the attention to this project from Senator Schumer. We look forward to continuing to work with the Senator to ensure this critical project becomes a reality,” said Village of Sidney Mayor Andy Matviak.
Schumer urged FEMA 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 millions of dollars in damage 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. In December 2014, Schumer visited Sidney to urge FEMA to be ready to approve this project once it hits the agency’s desk.
Following the 2006 flooding, 12 impacted New York State Counties, including Delaware County, were declared federal disaster areas. Sidney and surrounding areas sustained millions in damage and lost sales and more than 1,000 homes were negatively affected. 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 was sent to FEMA on Tuesday. 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.
The New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services submitted the GreenPlain project to FEMA on Tuesday for their approval and Schumer is now urging FEMA to 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 the 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.
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 has advanced the application, to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for consideration and therefore I urge you to approve it quickly. 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