Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has agreed to include Westchester and Rockland Counties as part of the major disaster declaration. Rep. Engel directly requested the agency include Rockland and Westchester to assist their recovery from the damages inflicted by Hurricane Sandy.
This declaration allows businesses, individuals and local governments to apply for FEMA aid. In addition, a waiver allows applications to be processed immediately. Rep. Engel said, "President Obama called on the federal agencies to forego red tape and help as fast as possible. I am pleased to see FEMA doing just that, helping these counties recover from another destructive storm."
Rep. Engel said in his letter, "I stand firmly with New York State and both Counties in requesting that they receive a disaster declaration. 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."
The two counties' preliminary damage assessment (PDA) reports made it clear the stricken counties needed FEMA aid. 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 in all of the regions. New York, Nassau, and Suffolk were included in the original major disaster declaration.
"I am thankful for the swift actions taken by Governor Andrew Cuomo and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in order to expedite this request. The residents of Westchester and Rockland are suffering the effects of this devastating storm, and need access to immediate assistance. I am pleased they will be receiving their needed assistance," added Rep. Engel.
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 that disastrous storm.