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Schumer Says Disaster Declaration Would Unlock Federal Funds for Impacted Counties 

Schumer To FEMA: Stand Ready To Approve Aid for Central New Yorkers 

U.S. Senate Minority Leader  Charles E. Schumer today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to stand ready to quickly approve any request from New York State for a major disaster declaration following recent thunderstorms and severe flooding in Central New York and the Mohawk Valley. In a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long, Schumer requested that FEMA stand ready to approve any forthcoming requests from the state for a disaster declaration for counties that were impacted by the storm. 

“This past weekend, residents across Central New York and the Mohawk Valley were ravaged by severe thunderstorms and flooding, and it is absolutely crucial that we get them the resources they need to recover,” said Senator Schumer. “I’m putting FEMA on notice now to be ready to support any requests for federal assistance so that communities have the resources they need to recover and rebuild.”  

Schumer added, "And Whitesboro was hit yet again, but this time even harder. And across Utica, from the Parkway to the streets of Brookline Drive, Roosevelt Drive, Eastwood Ave and Kensington, to name a few, people have had to put so many of their belongings out at the curb. That is why I am reaching out to FEMA to be at the ready, because so many neighborhoods took a punch to the gut." 

If a disaster declaration is declared, grant assistance would be made available to state and local governments, as well as certain non-profit organizations, to reimburse costs incurred for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities. This funding is available on a cost-sharing basis; FEMA generally covers 75% of the eligible costs for permanent and emergency work.  After any severe storm the first step in the declaration process is for the state to request a Preliminary Damage Assessment, during which FEMA representatives join state, local, and other officials to survey damage across storm-impacted counties to help determine whether the cost of the disaster meets the criteria for a federal disaster declaration. Schumer urged FEMA Administrator Brock Long to be prepared to support any requests for aid from New York State.

A copy of Schumer's letter appears below:

Dear Administrator Long:

I write in strong support of communities across Central New York that were impacted by this weekend’s severe storm and flooding. Officials are in the process of cleaning up and assessing the damage, and should that damage meet a level where New York State requests a major disaster declaration, I urge you to swiftly implement the federal programs activated by the President’s approval of that request.

On Saturday, heavy rains caused extensive flooding in parts of Central New York. According to media reports, Utica got 1.4 inches of rain in just 40 minutes and some areas saw as much as 6 inches of rain throughout the weekend, damaging homes and public infrastructure, and submerging cars. Some families were forced to evacuate their homes, and local 911 call centers reported high levels of emergency phone calls from residents who needed to be rescued from their homes, or who needed other assistance related to the flooding. A few thousand residents lost power during the storm. Several travel advisories and local states of emergency were issued across the region, and some roads remain closed.

As costs continue to mount for municipalities in Central New York, federal assistance could be vital. I am grateful for the attention that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the entire federal government have historically given to quickly responding to disasters impacting New York State. In that spirit, I urge you to stand ready to support any forthcoming requests for FEMA assistance as New York recovers from this storm.



Charles E. Schumer