N.Y. Disaster Funds Target Damage Reduction

August 16, 2005

About one-third of approved reimbursements to New York local governments to repair April flooding damages have been enhanced with mitigation funds to make the repairs more disaster resistant, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced Tuesday.

“To date, we have approved more than $9 million in reimbursements,” Federal Coordinating Officer Marianne Jackson of FEMA said, “and more than $3 million of that is money that will improve the repairs’ ability to resist like damage in a future disaster.”

The reimbursements are authorized under the Public Assistance (PA) Program, activated when a number of counties were declared federal disasters areas by President Bush on April 19. Local governments and certain non-profits in 20 counties were made eligible to apply for PA reimbursements.

The New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) administers the program. FEMA reimburses 75 percent of eligible disaster-related costs. Reimbursement can be made for debris removal, emergency protective measures and the repair of damaged infrastructure.

In most cases, Public Assistance repair and restoration funding brings the damaged infrastructure back to pre-disaster conditions.

However, a major FEMA and SEMO policy goal is to mitigate, where it is cost effective, when restoring damaged infrastructure so the repaired facility is better able to withstand future disaster damages. A minor expense now may prevent a major expense later.

Some examples of how this worked to repair April flooding damages:

* Culverts under several roadways in the Ulster County Town of Rochester were overwhelmed by floodwaters, causing about $50,000 in damage to roads. In approving repairs, an additional $2,000 in mitigation funding was provided to install larger culverts, thus reducing the chance they will be overwhelmed in the next flood and preventing another $50,000 in damage. Total project cost was about $52,000.

* Several roadways in the Greene County Village of Tannersville were damaged by floodwaters. Repair costs ran about $28,000. An additional $2,000 in mitigation funding was approved to increase the size of culverts under several roadways with the goal of reducing the chance of similar roadway damage occurring in future events. Total cost of project was about $30,000.

* In Orange County, Neversink River flooding overwhelmed a pump house that was the backwater supply for the City of Port Jervis. A 250-kilowatt generator was a total loss. To reduce chances of a recurrence in future floods, an extra $11,000 was approved to move the pump house to higher ground. Total project cost was about $52,000.

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