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Brian Luke Community Blogger, WGRZ-TV

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Governor Cuomo Seeks Federal Disaster Assistance for Spring Floods

Asks President to declare disaster for 26 counties: Press Release



Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today formally requested that President Barack Obama declare a major federal disaster for New York State and 26 counties as a result of the severe rains and incessant damaging flooding that has occurred since April 26. The Governor has requested that Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsak issue a natural disaster designation.

Counties included in the Governor's request are: Allegany, Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Steuben, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Washington, Warren, and Yates.

"The seemingly never-ending rains and ensuing flooding have caused severe damage and losses in many corners of the State," Governor Cuomo said. "While State agencies continue to do all that is possible to assist the impacted areas, I am asking President Obama for federal assistance to help our citizens and their communities on the road to recovery."

The Governor is making the request for federal assistance based on the results of a rapid joint assessment, which he requested from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on April 29. Preliminary information from the assessment of the 26 counties indicates the widespread impact, devastation and severity of the damages. The FEMA-State teams estimate more than $38 million in infrastructure repair and debris removal. The severe damage to private property affected 1,060 residences, destroying 14 homes and leaving 218 with major damage, much of which is uninsured. In addition, many of the damaged homes still have standing water and have the potential for additional damages beyond those observed by the joint assessment teams.

Based on that assessment, the Governor is seeking the implementation of FEMA's Public Assistance (PA) program for 21 counties. The PA program provides 75 percent federal reimbursement to municipalities for the costs of debris removal and emergency response actions as well as for repairs to public facilities. The 21 counties are Allegany, Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Steuben, Tioga, Ulster, Warren, and Yates.

Additionally, he is seeking the Individual Assistance program, which includes the Individuals and Households program, Other Needs Assistance program, disaster unemployment assistance, crisis counseling and the maximum allowable assistance to individuals and businesses from the Small Business Administration. The Governor is seeking this assistance for individuals and businesses impacted by the storms and flooding in these counties: Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Herkimer, Oneida, Onondaga, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Tompkins, Warren, Washington and Yates.

Governor Cuomo has also asked that FEMA implement statewide its Hazard Mitigation program, which provides 75 percent of the approved costs undertaken by state and local governments to prevent long-term risk to life or property from such disasters.

The State's response to the storms and flooding was swift and continuous. Governor Cuomo enacted the State's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, dispatched State Office of Emergency Management (OEM) personnel to impacted areas and activated the State's Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the response of State agencies. On April 29, the Governor declared a State Disaster Emergency in Essex County, one of the most heavily damaged areas.

The State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision had eight crews with 81 inmates assisting with sandbagging at four locations in Essex County. State DOT had 1,200 people and 150 pieces of equipment deployed in storm-related activities in the affected areas. The State Police readied its airboats, and the Office of Fire Prevention and Control's Swift Water Rescue Team prepared for rescue operations. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) deployed personnel to numerous locations to inspect dams and monitor slides and spills. The State Department of Health monitored public water supplies and water samples in the impacted areas.
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