Governor requests federal disaster declaration
FINGER LAKES—Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo submitted a request for a federal major disaster declaration to President Barack Obama Monday, June 16. The declaration would apply to Yates, Steuben, Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Delaware, Herkimer, Lewis, Livingston, Ontario and Otsego Counties after recent severe storms and flooding caused serious damage and destruction in communities in central and western New York.
The storms and flooding, which began May 12, affected a large portion of New York State, particularly the 11 counties where heavy rains fell in some areas at rates of five to seven inches in less than three hours. More than 6,500 homes and business were without power and more than 130 families sustained significant property damage. Roof collapses occurred on homes and businesses with numerous evacuations occurring.
“I am requesting that president Obama issue a major disaster declaration to help both state and local governments recover from the serious damage inflicted by the flooding and storms to hit communities in central and western New York,” Cuomo said. “This declaration will bring much needed federal financial assistance to localities that have endured serious hardship and damage, and help provide for vital repairs following some of the worst flooding these communities have experienced in decades.”
Cuomo declared a state disaster emergency within impacted areas in New York State May 14. Local states of emergency were declared in Yates County, Cattaraugus County, the village of Penn Yan, the village of Gowanda, the town of Jerusalem and the town of Sanford.
As a result of the damage caused by these storms, Cuomo requested technical assistance in the form of a joint State/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA), which was completed June 11. Results of this PDA validated state and county expenditures of more than $28 million in response and recovery efforts.
The president’s action would make federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms.
Congressman Tom Reed (R—Corning) announced Thursday, June 12 the damage in area counties affected by severe flooding in May exceeded the FEMA threshold of $26.9 million to receive federal assistance. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand encouraged FEMA to act quickly once the disaster declaration is officially made.
“It is critical that we get federal resources on the ground as soon as possible, so that Yates County and the other impacted Finger Lakes counties can recover and rebuild after this severe weather,” Schumer said in a press release. Gillibrand added, “Severe flooding has washed away roads and flooded homes and Main Street businesses in Yates County and throughout the Finger Lakes region. Countless residents and small business owners sustained damage, which is why federal assistance is so important.”