06.01.11

SCHUMER URGES WESTCHESTER TO BE NAMED AS ONE OF NY'S "STORM-READY" COUNTIES - DESIGNATION WOULD RESULT IN BETTER FLOOD PREPARDNESS AND LOWER FLOOD INSURANCE RATES FOR RESIDENTS

Storm Ready Designation, Already Enjoyed By Other NY Counties, Would Allow The County To Take Proactive Flood Mitigation Steps and Lower Flood Insurance RatesIn Personal Letter To The Head of Federal StormReady Program, Schumer Asks Officials To Work With Westchester To Ensure That The County Meets Program RequirementsSchumer: Westchester Residents Deserve Lower Flood Insurance Costs

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he is calling on the National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to work with Westchester County officials to ensure that the county can be designated a "StormReady" county. Achieving this designation would mean improved flood mitigation and storm preparedness techniques, and would also allow the county to begin earning Community Ratings System (CRS) points, which would begin to lower the price of flood insurance for county residents.
 
In order to achieve the "StormReady" designation, currently enjoyed by 26 communities in New York, Westchester would need to meet a number of requirements including a 24hour warning and emergency center, multiple ways of communicating stormrelated emergencies to the public, and a formal hazardous weather plan, among other qualifications. In a personal letter to Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, Schumer asks program officials to meet with Westchester leaders to develop a clear plan to ensure that Westchester meets the qualifications for the program and can begin lowering the cost of flood insurance for residents.
 
"Designating Westchester County 'StormReady' is critical to residents' security during unexpected natural emergencies, as well as to their wallets," Senator Schumer said. "I am pleased to work with Westchester County Executives to help ensure Westchester remains a safe place to live and work, and urge that the National Weather Service and NOAA do the same. The 'StormReady' program is a lifesaving investment that will provide the communities of Westchester with indispensable resources and support, so they can be better prepared for emergencies, and as a result will lower the price of flood insurance for Westchester residents."
 
In his letter, Schumer asks that program officials meet and coordinate with Westchester County executives as the county begins the process of becoming a NOAA and NWS designated "Storm Ready" County. In order to achieve the "StormReady" designation, Westchester would need to meet a number of requirements including: a 24hour warning point and emergency operations center, multiple ways of communicating stormrelated emergencies to the public, a formal hazardous weather plan, a system to monitor local weather conditions, and a series of public readiness seminars for the community. Schumer points out that Westchester has already implemented several safety measures that are required of the "StormReady" designation, including an emergency center, multiple ways of informing the public, and a 24hour warning system. Schumer asks NOAA and the NWS to work handinhand with Westchester to ensure that their plans for the remaining qualifications comply with the program standards.
 
Once Westchester meets "StormReady" qualifications, the designation can begin lowering the cost of flood insurance for Westchester County residents. The "StormReady" designation would recognize the improvements made in flood mitigation and storm preparedness techniques, and allow the county to begin earning Community Ratings System (CRS) points, which would begin to lower the price of flood insurance for county residents. The National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. As a result, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions meeting the three goals of the CRS: reduce flood losses, facilitate accurate insurance rating, and promote the awareness of flood insurance.
 
Flooded homes have become a near annual occurrence throughout the county, from Mamaroneck to Elmsford, evidence of the fact that Westchester County could benefit greatly by becoming "StormReady." In fact, just two weeks ago, heavy rains swept through Westchester, causing portions of the Saw Mill Parkway and the Bronx River Parkway to flood and shut down parts of both roads. 
 
The National Weather Service's "StormReady" program is a nationwide preparedness initiative offered to provide guidance and incentives to local communities who aim to be proactive in improving their hazardous weather operations. At present, twentysix New York counties possess a "Storm Ready" designation, whereby they have developed emergency operations centers and weather warning alert systems, created systems to monitor local weather conditions, promoted the importance of public readiness, and established emergency weather plans. Schumer states that Westchester is not only eligible, but in dire need for increased flood preparedness that can also lower flood insurance rates for county residents.
 
A copy of Senator Schumer's letter to Under Secretary Dr. Jane Lubchenco appears below:

June 1, 2011Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Room 5128
Washington, D.C. 20230
 
Dear Under Secretary:
 
I write today to urge that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) work closely with Westchester County, New York, as it begins the process of becoming an NOAA and NWS designated "StormReady" County.
 
As you know, "StormReady" is a nationwide preparedness program that encourages local communities to take a proactive approach to improving and implementing disaster preparedness measures. At present, twentysix New York counties possess a "StormReady" designation, whereby they have developed emergency operations centers and weather warning alert systems, created systems to monitor local weather conditions, promoted the importance of public readiness, and established emergency weather plans.
 
Now it's time for Westchester County to join the ranks of the "StormReady." Westchester understands the importance taking proactive steps to mitigate the effects of severe weather, and in fact Westchester already meets some of the requirements required to achieve "StormReady" status. For example, Westchester County has already created an emergency response center and has adopted a 24hour warning system.
 
Achieving this designation would mean improved storm preparedness techniques, including improved flood mitigation techniques. As you know, flood insurance can be very costly, but with improved flood mitigation techniques Westchester County will be on its way to being better able to protect its residents, mitigate floodrelated damages, and lower the costs of flood insurance for those residing or conducting business in a special flood hazard area.
 
At this time, I urge NOAA and NWS to meet and coordinate closely with Westchester County officials as they work toward becoming a "StormReady" community. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and I are eager to work with you and your staff to fulfill each NOAA and NWS requirement and make Westchester County a "StormReady" community.
 
            Thank you for your attention to this important request. Please contact me or my aide, Grant Kerr, at 2022246542 should you have any questions or need additional information.
 
                 Sincerely,
    
                
     Charles E. Schumer 



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