SCHUMER URGES FEDS TO SWIFTLY APPROVE HERKIMER’S APPLICATION FOR FUNDING TO REPAIR STORM DRAINAGE SYSTEMS DAMAGED BY SEVERE 2013 FLOODING – VILLAGE REMAINS VULNERABLE TO FUTURE FLOOD DAMAGE & NEEDS FINAL SIGNOFF ASAP TO MAKE REPAIRS
In 2013, Flooding Rains Submerged The Streets Of Herkimer, Which Caused Extensive Damage At Their North Bellinger Street & Marginal Road Storm Drains
Herkimer Remains Vulnerable To Future Flooding Until Drainage System Is Repaired, But Cannot Move Forward Without FEMA Sign-Off; Village Has Sought Approval As Far Back As 2014
Schumer: Herkimer Cannot Wait Any Longer; FEMA Needs To Cut Through Red Tape & Approve Project ASAP
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer joined residents in Herkimer to urge the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to swiftly review and approve funding for repairs to the village’s storm drainage systems at Marginal Road and North Bellinger Street, which suffered serious damage due to flooding in the summer of 2013. In total the Village recorded over $6 million in damages to the Bellinger Street area during the June 2013 flood. But the drainage systems have yet to be repaired because the Village has not received final project approval from FEMA, keeping the central part of the village vulnerable to severe flooding during heavy rains. Schumer urged FEMA to expedite and approve the village’s request for funds to make critical repairs and protect its residents from future flooding.
“The Village of Herkimer has worked hard to study and plan a way forward to both repair the damaged drainage system and prevent future damage. It has been almost four years since Herkimer’s streets were flooded causing millions of dollars in damages & residents here have waited long enough; the failure of the storm drainage system has already cost them millions and that number could continue to grow with every storm,” said Senator Schumer. “I will fight tooth and nail to make sure that Herkimer gets every dollar it needs to repair and shore up its infrastructure against increasingly powerful storms. FEMA must approve this project so that Herkimer can get to work and fix this problem.”
Schumer explained that Herkimer is awaiting final approval for $480,000 in funding to repair and increase the resiliency of its storm drainage systems on Marginal Road and North Bellinger Street, an area that experienced significant damage from flooding and storms in the summer of 2013. In 2015 the village board voted to proceed with the bidding process for a flood mitigation project. However, the village cannot move forward with construction of the project until they receive final FEMA sign-off. The village plans to use the FEMA funding to support two projects that would work to improve Herkimer’s storm infrastructure, allowing the village to be ready if and when another storm hits. The village plans to increase the size of the North Bellinger Street storm drain pipe from 24 to 36 inches in order to better mitigate damage from future storms. The village also plans to repair and reroute the Marginal Road storm drain pipe away from existing buildings. Village officials believe that these repairs and upgrades will protect the village from future storms. Schumer added that the existing drains are of vitreous clay and could crack and collapse at any time causing catastrophic flooding in the central part of the Village.
The damage from flooding in 2013 qualified Herkimer County for FEMA recovery aid and the Village began working with FEMA and NYSDHSES in 2013 to design a project and access that aid, Schumer explained. The project scope and costs first need FEMA approval before the funding can be delivered, so the Village worked diligently over the course of four years to comply with FEMA’s requirements and requests, including by submitting multiple amendments to its application in accordance with FEMA and DHSES direction and guidelines. A portion of the funding was approved in 2016, but it contained errors and omitted the village’s hazard mitigation proposal to increase the size of the North Bellinger Street storm drain pipe, so Herkimer requested corrections and a scope of work change for necessary re-routing of the pipe. Schumer said FEMA should expedite and approve Herkimer’s project as soon as possible so the Village can begin construction and fully recover from the 2013 damages.
In 2013 Herkimer and the surrounding areas were hit by historic rainfall, with more than 20 roads closed and many residents who were surprised by the storms were left with damage to their homes and workplaces. Many of the county’s waterways including Bellinger Brook went past its banks and flooded nearby homes. The storm’s downpour submerged the streets of Herkimer, and caused failures at the Marginal Road and North Bellinger Street storm drains. As a result, the St. Francis Church and School and Mid-Town Apartments were left damaged and needed over $2 million in repairs, and residential flooding along North Belllinger Street required another $1 million to make repairs. In total, the Village recorded over $6 million dollars in damages in the Bellinger Street area and the lack of repairs to the drainage system is continuing to cause flooding in the area.
It will be four years this June since the flooding rains and storm took place. Residents and businesses have been extremely patient in waiting for necessary repair work and the village remains vulnerable to further damage should another storm occur. Given the importance of this project, Senator Schumer has urged the prompt review of the application. This federal funding is critical to help the Village of Herkimer recover from the battering it received in 2013.
Schumer was joined by Herkimer Mayor Anthony Brindisi and village residents.
A copy of Schumer’s letter appears below:
Dear Acting Administrator Fenton:
I write in support of the Village of Herkimer’s request for swift approval of the scope of work change for the Village Storm Drainage Contract as outlined under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Project Worksheet #616 (DR-41298NY). Herkimer is awaiting final approval for over $480,000 in funding to repair and increase the resiliency of its storm drainage systems on Marginal Road and North Bellinger Street, an area that experienced significant damage due to flooding and storms in the summer of 2013.
In June and July of 2013, flooding rains and storms submerged the streets of Herkimer, causing failure at their Marginal Road and North Bellinger Street storm drains. As a result, the St. Francis Church and School and Mid-Town Apartments needed over $2 million in repairs and residential flooding along North Belllinger Street required another $1 million. In total, the Village recorded over $6 million in damages in the Bellinger Street area and the lack of repairs to the drainage system is continuing to cause flooding to in the area.
The Village began working with FEMA and New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (NYSDHSES) in 2013 to utilize federal funding to help pay for these flood event damages. It has worked diligently over the past several years to comply with multiple requests to amend its application so that FEMA would approve and agree to reimburse the project costs, and with adjusted scope and cost estimates submitted, all that is needed is FEMA’s approval for the storm drain repairs to commence.
It will be four years this June since the flooding rains and storm took place. Residents and businesses have been extremely patient in waiting for necessary repair work and the village remains vulnerable to further damage should another storm occur. Given the importance of this project, I ask that you promptly review the application and approve the scope of work change to free up the necessary funding that will enable the Village of Herkimer to fully recover from the destructive storms of 2013.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important request. I look forward to hearing from you.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator