Washington, DC – After a March weekend of extreme weather that left several people dead and more than half a million New Yorkers without power, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer today urged President Obama and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate to make a federal disaster declaration for Staten Island, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley. At the Senators’ urging, FEMA has been in New York to conduct Preliminary Damage Assessments for the affected counties.
Late yesterday, Governor David Paterson asked for federal disaster aid. Senators Gillibrand and Schumer are now calling on the FEMA Administrator and the President to approve New York’s request for federal assistance, explaining that 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 on Long Island, Staten 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.”
“After enduring yet another devastating storm, the residents of Long Island, Staten Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley deserve the assistance of federal disaster aid,” Senator Schumer said. “The regions’ first responders and emergency workers have done an outstanding job cleaning up after the storm and assisting people get back on track, but they shouldn’t be the ones to foot the bill. During these tough economic times, communities just can’t afford to clean up from these massive storms alone, and it is up to the federal government to step up to the plate.”
Senator Gillibrand and Schumer’s full letter to the President is below:
March 30, 2009The Honorable Barack H. Obama President of the United States 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, D.C. 20500
The Honorable W. Craig Fugate Administrator Federal Emergency Management Agency 500 C Street S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20472
Dear President Obama and Administrator Fugate,
We write today to urge the expeditious approval of New York State’s recent request for a federal disaster declaration for Suffolk, Nassau, Richmond, Orange, Rockland and Westchester Counties. The wind and rain storms that hit these areas on March 13-15, 2010, caused significant damage that clearly merits a federal declaration.
The storm that slammed the New York metro area included wind gusts of up to seventy-five miles an hour. These gusts toppled trees and cut power lines, blocking key access roads and making the situation on the ground very dangerous for residents, first responders, and emergency personnel. The accompanying heavy rains destroyed public property, flooded homes, and ruined local businesses.
As you know, Nassau and Suffolk Counties were declared disaster areas in November 2009, and a few months ago these same communities were hit with severe snowstorms that cost state and local governments almost $50 million. This onslaught of weather systems has pushed state and local government budgets past their limits, and they desperately need federal government assistance.
We urge you to quickly approve New York State’s disaster declaration request, and thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to working with you to secure every possible resource to assist New Yorkers recovering from this storm.
Kirsten E. Gillibrand Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator United States Senator