Lawmakers support of New York’s request for a major disaster declaration

Following catastrophic floods, Brindisi, Schumer, Gillibrand lead bipartisan, bicameral, push for President Trump to approve disaster declaration

Congressman Anthony Brindisi, Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, joined by Representatives Elise Stefanik, Antonio Delgado, John Katko, Paul Tonko, Tom Reed and Brian Higgins, led a bipartisan letter to President Donald Trump urging him to approve a major disaster declaration in New York following recent flooding. The bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers pushed President Trump to declare a major disaster in order to release critical funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Communities across Upstate New York saw horrific damage and heartbreak during these floods,” Brindisi said. “I am calling on President Trump to declare a major disaster and release funds from FEMA to help make these communities whole. These dollars won’t bring back what families lost, but they will go a long way to try and help our counties rebuild.”

“This Halloween, our state, from one corner to the other, saw severe damage after being ravaged by heavy rain, flooding and tempestuous winds,” said Schumer. “It is absolutely critical that we get these upstate communities the federal aid they need and deserve. This immense damage totaled more than $30 million in costs suffered and demands swift help from the feds to repair and recover. FEMA should approve New York state’s request for a disaster declaration as soon as possible, so that counties across the state can continue recovering and rebuilding.”

“Powerful storms from October caused power outages, flooding, and downed trees across Upstate New York, and communities in 18 counties in our state are still working to clean up extensive damage and repair eroded roads and other infrastructure,” said Gillibrand. “They need help now, and President Trump should waste no time approving New York’s request for a major disaster declaration for the widespread damage these storms had to our neighborhoods, businesses and roadways. The federal government has a responsibility to assist in recovery efforts, and I will continue to do everything I can to help our communities get the relief they need.”

“In Oswego County and across New York state, flooding and sustained winds have resulted in severe damage to homes and businesses, resulting in financial hardship for the families and businesses affected,” said Katko. “It is imperative we provide the necessary resources to rehabilitate damaged properties, and for this reason I am proud to join my colleagues in urging swift approval of New York state’s request to declare this a major disaster. With this declaration, we will ensure the proper assistance is granted to those in need of these resources.”

“The devastating floods in October and November swamped our rural communities across New York and I am grateful to the first responders and emergency crews who worked day and night to restore power and assist those in need.” Delgado said, “I join my colleagues in urging the President to declare the flooding in these upstate counties as a major disaster and release federal funding to support the rehabilitation of our communities in the flood zone. I will continue to urge the Administration to work alongside state and local officials to coordinate resources and facilitate redevelopment efforts of Montgomery and Otsego County infrastructure that was damaged by the storm.”

In order to receive money from FEMA, the state of New York conducted a Preliminary Damage Assessment in coordination with FEMA and must request a disaster declaration. The Governor made that request November 26th. The request now requires Presidential approval.

According to FEMA, in order to meet the threshold for public assistance, the impacted counties and the state must both meet a monetary damage threshold. That threshold varies by county and the state threshold is $29.6 million.  

“We write in strong support of the State of New York’s request for a major disaster declaration for the widespread damage and flooding caused by heavy rains and strong sustained winds on October 31, 2019,” the lawmakers wrote. “There is no doubt that this damage has overwhelmed state and local governments, and that a major disaster declaration is necessary. Federal assistance programs will be critical, so that our communities can recover from the flood damage. We strongly support the State of New York’s request for a major disaster declaration in the areas impacted by this storm event.  We appreciate your swift attention and consideration of this request and stand ready to work with you and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to deliver support and resources to the impacted communities.”

The lawmakers’ bipartisan letter is below:

Dear President Trump:

We write in strong support of the State of New York’s request for a major disaster declaration for the widespread damage and flooding caused by heavy rains and strong sustained winds on October 31, 2019 and continued until November 1, 2019. Enclosed is a copy of the Governor’s request. 

These punishing storms caused significant damage across Upstate New York, including sustained damage leading to displaced residents, uninhabitable homes, destroyed roads, and the tragic death of Father J. Thomas Connery of Glenville, NY. A joint federal, state, and local Preliminary Damage Assessment completed on November 25, 2019 revealed that damages and eligible costs exceeded $33 million.

Reflecting the statewide damage from these heavy rains and strong sustained winds, Governor Andrew Cuomo requested that you declare a major disaster on November 26, 2019, pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (P.L. 93-288), including hazard mitigation statewide and Public Assistance for Chautauqua, Chenango, Cortland, Erie, Essex, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Oswego, Otsego, Saratoga, Tioga and Warren Counties and Individual Assistance for Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer, and Oneida Counties. 

There is no doubt that this damage has overwhelmed state and local governments, and that a major disaster declaration is necessary. Federal assistance programs will be critical, so that our communities can recover from the flood damage. We thank the Governor and the State for their work thus far and strongly support the request for a major disaster declaration in the areas impacted by this storm event.  

We appreciate your swift attention and consideration of this request and stand ready to work with you and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency to deliver support and resources to the impacted communities.

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