New York's Senators joined with seven members of the New York House Delegation today to send a letter to President Barack Obama and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to strongly support an appeal of the denial of federal assistance for damage done in May 2011. Governor Andrew Cuomo submitted a formal appeal of the denial on October 19, 2011, explaining the necessity of securing federal help for the over $23 million in damage done during the period of May 9-30, 2011. Counties affected were Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Niagara, Steuben, Warren, and Wyoming. Along with Congressman Gibson, signing the letter was Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representatives Brian Higgins, Maurice Hinchey, Kathy Hochul, Bill Owens, Tom Reed, and Louise Slaughter.
"While much of our attention has focused on the effects of more recent storms to hit New York, many communities across our state are still trying to recover from the significant flooding that occurred in May. In my district, the small town of Thurman suffered over $13 million in damages alone. It is critical that federal aid is secured to help towns like Thurman rebuild the destruction done to roads and bridges. I am strongly supportive of the Governor's appeal, and proud to join with so many of my colleagues to help our constituents recover," said Congressman Chris Gibson.
Text of the letter is as follows:
Dear President Obama and Administrator Fugate:
Thank you for your efforts in support of the counties across New York State impacted by the recent severe storms and flooding. In July, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared that the counties of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chemung, Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Steuben, Warren, and Wyoming were not eligible for federal assistance for damage suffered as a result of the severe storms and flooding during the period of May 9-30, 2011. The stated reason for the denial was that "the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments."
On October 19, 2011, the State of New York submitted a formal appeal of this denial and added Chautauqua and Niagara Counties to the State's original request. We write today to express our strong support for this appeal. New York State has suffered tremendous devastation throughout 2011 and, without federal assistance, our local communities will not have the resources to repair the extensive damage done to vital bridges and roads. As you know, 44 CFR Section 206.48 requires FEMA to take localized impact and recent multiple disasters into account when evaluating a state's request for a major disaster declaration. Given that prior to the May 9-30 storms, New York had received four major disaster declarations and local damages in some affected counties exceed per capita thresholds by a factor of almost 60, we respectfully urge you to accept New York's appeal for assistance.
Thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of all New Yorkers impacted by this year's devastating storms. We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure our local communities recover swiftly.