Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today made a personal appeal to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano in support of a major disaster declaration for parts of the Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier and North Country. On Monday, July 1, Senator Gillibrand toured the flood zone in Montgomery and Herkimer Counties, seeing the devastation first hand and meeting with local officials, first responders, families, and businesses. Today, in a phone call with the Secretary, Senator Gillibrand detailed the damage in upstate New York and the critical needs of local communities.
“These heavy storms and floods damaged homes and businesses and swept away infrastructure and farms all the way from the Adirondacks to the Mohawk Valley to the Southern Tier,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Our communities are suffering and need every available resource from the federal government without delay so we can clean up, rebuild, and stand strong.”
Specifically, Senator Gillibrand is requesting approval of New York State’s request for the President to declare a major disaster, including FEMA Individual Assistance and Public Assistance, Categories A-G, for 15 severely-impacted counties in the State of New York: Individual Assistance for Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, and Oneida Counties; Public Assistance for Chenango, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, and Otsego Counties; and Hazard Mitigation statewide.
Last week, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer urged FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to swiftly approve New York State’s request for a federal state of emergency declaration in light of the severe flooding in the Capital Region, Central New York, the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley after days of heavy rainfall. In their letter, the Senators pointed out that the power outages and significant damage to businesses, homes and public property clearly warrants the disaster declaration. Also last week, the Senators wrote to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue an agriculture disaster declaration and expedite disaster assistance for upstate farmland damaged by heavy rain and flooding, extending from parts of Central New York, the Mohawk Valley, the Capital Region, the Hudson Valley and surrounding areas.
Herkimer, Oneida, Madison and Montgomery County have been hit particularly hard by the heavy rainfall of June 27 and 28. At the height of the storms, over 13,000 New Yorkers were without power, including the entire village of Mohawk, whose power substation was inundated by 10 feet of water. Significant flooding caused by the overflowing of the Mohawk River due to heavy rainfall has ravaged 15 counties, forced hundreds to evacuate from their homes, destroyed countless amounts of personal property, and rendered critical infrastructure such as water treatment plants, power stations, and canal locks inoperable or significantly damaged. In addition to infrastructure, many citizens of the State of New York have been gravely affected. In four of the hardest hit municipalities, there are 44 destroyed homes, 75 with major damage, and more than 757 with minor damage. Areas in the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley were also impacted and are in need of aid.