Congressman Eliot Engel strongly urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to add Westchester and Rockland Counties to the major disaster declaration, and grant the two counties a waiver of preliminary assessment reports to speed aid to the stricken countries.
This declaration would give businesses, individuals and local governments the ability to apply for FEMA aid. In addition, a waiver would allow applications to begin immediate processing. Rep. Engel said, "President Obama called on the federal agencies to forego red tape and help as fast as possible. I'm asking FEMA to do just that, and start helping these counties right way."
Rep. Engel said in his letter, "I stand firmly with New York State and both Counties in requesting that they receive a disaster declaration. More so, I request that in order to expedite assistance to these devastated Counties, FEMA should provide Westchester and Rockland a waiver on the Preliminary Damage Assessment reports (PDA). I understand that FEMA staff are on the ground in both Counties, and have witnessed first-hand the significant flooding and damage to buildings and infrastructure."
Both counties, as well as New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties, were severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy, leaving hundreds of thousands of people still without power. New York, Nassau, and Suffolk were included in the original major disaster declaration.
Rep. Engel also asked that FEMA give him a timeline of assistance for the counties. "The residents of Westchester and Rockland are suffering the effects of this devastating storm, and need access to immediate assistance," he wrote to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
Last year, Rep. Engel successfully convinced FEMA to tour the Hurricane Irene damage in Rockland County, and set up a FEMA Recovery Center in Rockland County to service the people affected by the previous disastrous storm.