Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand urged FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to swiftly approve New York State's request for a federal state of emergency declaration in light of the severe flooding in the Capital Region, Central New York, the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley after days of heavy rainfall. In their letter, the Senators pointed out that the power outages and significant damage to businesses, homes and public property clearly warrants the disaster declaration. Specifically, Schumer and Gillibrand are requesting approval of the state's request for FEMA Individual Assistance and Public Assistance, Categories A-G, for 15 severely-impacted counties in the State of New York: Individual Assistance for Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, and Oneida Counties; Public Assistance for Chenango, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, and Otsego Counties; and Hazard Mitigation statewide.
"Upstate New York has been hammered with severe flooding and dangerous debris after days of heavy rainfall, and the Mohawk Valley, foothills of the Adirondacks, and portions of the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley have borne the brunt of the damage," said Senator Schumer. "It is critical that we get federal resources on the ground as soon as possible, so that they can rebuild after this severe weather. This federal disaster assistance is necessary because it will give reassurance to our communities that the federal government will be there to help respond and recover, and we urge the President and FEMA to grant this designation and approve New York State's request as quickly as possible."
"These heavy storms and floods swept away homes, businesses, roads and highways all the way from the Adirondacks to the Mohawk Valley to the Southern Tier," said Senator Gillibrand, who toured flood-ravaged areas of Herkimer and Montgomery Counties on Monday. "These communities are suffering and need every available resource from the federal government without delay so we can clean up, rebuild, and stand strong."
Herkimer, Oneida, Madison and Montgomery County have been hit particularly hard by the heavy rainfall of July 27 and July 28. At the height of the storms, over 13,000 New Yorkers were without power, including the entire village of Herkimer, whose power substation was inundated by 10 feet of water. Significant flooding caused by the overflowing of the Mohawk River due to heavy rainfall has ravaged 15 counties, forced hundreds to evacuate from their homes, destroyed countless amounts of personal property, and rendered critical infrastructure such as water treatment plants, power stations, and canal locks inoperable or significantly damaged. In addition to infrastructure, many citizens of the State of New York have been gravely affected. In four of the hardest hit municipalities, there are 44 destroyed homes, 75 with major damage, and more than 757 with minor damage. Areas in the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley were also impacted and are in need of aid. In their letter, the Senators argued that prompt federal assistance was required for many of these communities which are still recovering from the damage incurred by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, and while the state still recovers from Superstorm Sandy.
A copy of the Senators' letter appears below:
Dear President Obama and Administrator Fugate:
We write in strong support of New York State's request for a major disaster declaration for the State of New York as a result of severe storms and major flooding which impacted the State on June 27, 2013 and June 28, 2013. Significant flooding caused by the overflowing of the Mohawk River due to heavy rainfall has ravaged 15 counties, forced hundreds to evacuate from their homes, destroyed countless amounts of personal property, and rendered critical infrastructure such as water treatment plants, power stations, and canal locks inoperable or significantly damaged. Powerful bursts of rain falling in already saturated areas swelled rivers and caused waters to cascade from hills and contribute to sudden floods that destroyed and demolished homes in a matter of minutes.
On June 28, 2013, the State declared a State Disaster Emergency for 15 impacted counties and 15 municipalities were also declared local states of emergency because of the storm's severity. At the height of the storm, more than 13,000 people were without power, 475 New Yorkers were evacuated from their homes, and many towns and villages were inundate between five to ten feet of water. As a result of the levee failure in the City of Oneida, for example, the city's waste water treatment plant is completely under water. The Village of Mohawk in Herkimer County, which has a population of 3500 people, is entirely without power because the substation was inundated with ten feet of water. Roads remain without access in Montgomery County, and the New York State Canal System has been severely affected by debris and flooding. This is just a sample of the damage to public infrastructure.
In addition to infrastructure, many citizens of the State of New York have been gravely affected. In four municipalities, there are 44 destroyed homes, 75 with major damage, and more than 757 with minor damage. Damage assessments in some parts have not begun because the flood waters have not receded and they remain under water. The State has requested technical assistance from FEMA and just after one day, the State has estimated that there is already more than $13 million in damages in nine out twelve affected counties, and much of that represents only one or two communities in each county. This is only a fraction of what the damage is likely to be when more complete assessments can be made. This number does not include damages to State owned property such as the canal system or the cost of debris removal or other emergency measures. Until the waters recede, we will not be able to fully grasp the extent of this disaster.
Without approval of this support through the powers afforded to you in the Stafford Act, the state will have an even more difficult time recovering from the constant impact of a recent string of disasters. The State has yet to fully recover from Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and Superstorm Sandy, and believe that federal assistance is necessary to preserve safety of our citizens and infrastructure against future disasters. We are grateful for the prompt attention that you and the entire federal government have given to quickly responding to disasters impacting New York State, and for your commitment to cutting bureaucratic red-tape so that assistance can be provided as quickly and efficiently as possible. In that spirit, we strongly urge you to approve the state's request.