March 15, 2010

After Heavy Storms Ravage New York, Gillibrand Calls On Feds To Assess Storm Damage In NYC, Long Island, And Lower Hudson Valley

Washington, DC ­– After a weekend of extreme weather that killed several people and left more than half a million New Yorkers without power, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide federal assistance to conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment for Suffolk, Nassau, Westchester, Rockland and Orange Counties, and all five boroughs of New York City that were ravaged by this weekend’s storms.

In her letter to FEMA Administrator William Fugate, Senator Gillibrand explained that more than half a million homes and businesses across New York had lost power at some point, and more than 250,000 were still without power. Several people have been killed, countless homes and buildings are ruined, and infrastructure is badly damaged – leaving many families isolated from quick relief. In addition, Long Island’s beaches have taken a substantial hit across the north and south shores, leaving homes, roads and dunes vulnerable.

“New York residents should not be left shouldering all of the costs from this storm.  The federal government must step in immediately to help residents in New York City, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Local utilities have reported that the weekend nor’easter was the worst storm in 20 years. Thousands of trees are down in communities throughout the region, with dramatic cleanup costs in areas that have already sustained significant losses from previous storms.”

Senator Gillibrand’s full letter to FEMA Administrator Fugate is below:

March 15, 2010

Honorable Craig Fugate
Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street SW
Washington, DC 20472

Dear Administrator Fugate,

I write in support of New York State’s request for FEMA assistance in conducting a Preliminary Damage Assessment for Suffolk, Nassau, Westchester, Rockland and Orange Counties and the five boroughs of New York City, which were hit by severe weather this weekend.  Over the course of the weekend, the New York area and Long Island was hit with over six inches of rain, high winds, and flooding, and which has tragically resulted in at least six deaths in the area.  Your immediate assistance to compile damage information and assess the impact of this storm would greatly assist efforts to recover from this storm and assist individuals, businesses and communities to rebuild.

At the peak of the storm on Saturday, more than half a million homes and businesses in the area were without power, and more than 250,000 have yet to see electricity to return – with over 75,000 on Long Island and nearly as many in Westchester County.  Sustained winds of more than 60 miles and hour, with gusts up to 75 miles an hour, were recorded, toppling trees onto homes and cars throughout the region and endangering the ability of first responders to provide assistance.  Local utilities have reported that the weekend nor’easter was the worst storm in 20 years. Thousands of trees are down in communities throughout the region, with dramatic cleanup costs in an area which has already sustained significant costs to clean up from previous storms. In addition, Long Island’s shores were battered, leading to severe erosion and flooding at Jones Beach, Robert Moses and Gilgo Beach. These same beaches were eroded last November and the additional sand loss has placed vital infrastructure in harm’s way. While all hands are on deck, and hundreds of utility and emergency management workers have been brought in to the downstate region from other parts of the state – more assistance is needed.

FEMA technical assistance to conduct immediate damage assessments would provide our communities with the resources to catalogue the damage, gauge cleanup costs, and expedite the process for a possible disaster declaration and additional assistance at the state and federal levels.  I hope that you will be able to act quickly on this request and I will continue to work with you to ensure that every available resource is brought to bear to assist the individuals, businesses and communities affected by this storm.

Sincerely,

Kirsten E. Gillibrand
U.S. Senator