New York Governor George Pataki has asked President Bush to declare a major federal disaster for 15 counties and contiguous areas across the State, making them eligible for federal assistance as a result of a continuing series of strong storms which began May 13 and caused widespread flooding and massive high-wind damages.
The Governor requested federal assistance for the following counties: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Delaware, Erie, Herkimer, Monroe, Oneida, Ontario, Saratoga, Schoharie, Steuben, Ulster, Washington, Yates and contiguous areas.
“This seemingly never-ending series of storms caused significant debris, and wind and water damage to public and private facilities as well as leaving thousands of people without electric power,” Gov. Pataki said. “While New York State continues to do everything possible to ease the personal hardships suffered by thousands of New Yorkers and help local communities recover, the ongoing effort has placed a severe strain on local and State resources, making it necessary to ask for this much-needed federal assistance.”
In his request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance, the Governor is specifically seeking these categories of aid: public assistance to reimburse communities for debris removal, the costs of emergency response efforts and to restore public infrastructure; individual assistance for citizens who suffered losses; the implementation of FEMA’s hazard mitigation program; and disaster unemployment insurance.
The series of storms, which began May 13th, 2004 and continued through this month, caused mudslides that closed major roadways and damage to roads, bridges, dams and other infrastructure that seriously impacted the ability of local governments to provide emergency services because of road closures and detours.
In response to the storms, the Governor directed the implementation of the State Emergency Operations Plan and directed State agencies to take necessary actions in restoring vital public services and transportation systems. State agencies, such as the State Police, Department of Transportation, State Emergency Management Office and Public Service Commission, have worked throughout the period in responding to the storms and assisting local governments and citizens.
“Many of the most severely impacted counties have not yet recovered from the devastating flooding that occurred during last summer’s storms and are still struggling to repair their infrastructure,” the Governor said. “That’s why we need federal assistance as expeditiously as possible.”
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