N.Y. Gov. Notes Added Federal Aid for Storms

November 24, 2004

New York Gov. George Pataki recently announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved New York State’s appeal for homeowners, renters and small businesses in 14 flood-ravaged counties to be made eligible for federal disaster assistance for damages and other losses caused by the late summer storms.

“This federal approval is tremendous news for the residents and small businesses who suffered personal hardships and damages from the seemingly never-ending storms of late August and September,” the Governor said. “I want to thank President Bush and Under Secretary Michael Brown for acting on our request, which will ensure that all New Yorkers affected by the storms can get the assistance they need for necessary disaster-related expenses.”

Specifically, FEMA approved the provision of individual assistance programs to the following counties: Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Madison, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Orleans, Steuben, Sullivan, Ulster and Wayne. FEMA also expanded the incident period for those storms to Aug. 13 through Sept. 16, which was originally requested by the State.

Individual disaster assistance may include grants for home repairs, temporary housing, or any serious needs or necessary disaster-related expenses; and long-term, low-interest loans to cover personal, residential and business losses not covered by insurance.

Local governments in 15 counties are also eligible for federal and state reimbursement for the costs of emergency protective measures taken during those storms as well as for the restoration of public infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and for debris removal.

Acting on the Governor’s request, FEMA recently approved the eligibility of Chautauqua County for this type of assistance. The other eligible counties include: Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Columbia, Delaware, Monroe, Niagara, Onondaga, Orange, Orleans, Steuben, Sullivan, Ulster and Warren.

On Oct. 1, FEMA issued a major disaster declaration for the late summer storms and approved 10 counties at that time for federal public assistance. The State, however, appealed that decision, asking that the assistance for the 15 counties be approved as the Governor originally requested.

The series of storms, which began Aug. 13 and continued through Sept. 16, caused extensive flooding that closed State and local major roadways, isolating residents and significantly impacting businesses. The heavy rains caused power outages, and coupled with the road closures, forced scores to seek shelter out of their homes. Damage to roads, bridges, dams and other infrastructure seriously impacted the ability of local governments to provide emergency services because of the closures and detours.

Gov. Pataki directed the implementation of the State Emergency Operations Plan at the outset of the storms in August and ordered State agencies to take necessary actions to protect public health and safety and to restore vital public services and transportation systems. Among those State agencies who responded and continue to work in the recovery effort are the State Police, the State Departments of Transportation, Health, Environmental Conservation, and Correctional Services, the Thruway Authority and the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO).

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