Press Release

Gillibrand, Schumer, Bishop Blast FEMA Decision To Deny Long Island Disaster Funding – Call On NYS To Appeal Immediately

Jun 4, 2010

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer and Congressman Tim Bishop blasted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) decision to deny Long Island needed federal dollars to recover from heavy storms this spring. Officials are requesting that FEMA recognize the storms beginning March 13 and ending April 12 as a single weather system, since the damage is cumulative from several storms. Two other northeast states received disaster declarations by combining storms this spring. Senators Gillibrand and Schumer and Rep. Bishop called on Governor David Paterson to appeal FEMA’s decision immediately.

“I am deeply disappointed with the latest FEMA decision to deny Long Island the opportunity to seek federal disaster assistance,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It is unacceptable how similar requests were granted for neighboring Connecticut and Rhode Island for the same storm system. We must appeal this decision immediately, and I will directly address this issue with FEMA and the White House”

“This decision was flat wrong and we are going to fight tooth and nail to reverse it. During these tough economic times, Long Island communities simply cannot absorb these costs alone,” Senator Schumer said. “Long Island’s first responders and emergency workers have done an outstanding job but no community can budget for these massive weather events, and it is up to the federal government to assist when it has the duty and power to do so. I am urging both FEMA and the White House to reverse this decision”

“FEMA’s decision to deny New York is simply unacceptable,” Congressman Tim Bishop said.  “I am working with New York State on filing an appeal within a week and I will be meeting with top FEMA officials on Thursday to voice my outrage and demand they reverse this decision.”

The text of the letter is below:

June 4, 2010


The Honorable David A. Paterson
Executive Chamber
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Paterson,

We are writing to request that you quickly appeal the recent FEMA decision denying New York State’s request to amend FEMA-1899-DR-NY to include damages related to the storm events beginning March 13, 2010 and ending April 12, 2010. 

FEMA’s denial seems unwarranted given that Connecticut and Rhode Island were granted disaster declarations that extended beyond March for damage caused by the same storm events.  It is our understanding that the initial requests for a disaster declaration made by those states were open-ended, while New York’s was not.

As you know, the storms that slammed the New York metro area in March, 2010, were destructive and dangerous. Many homeowners, businesses and local governments are still recuperating.  Suffolk County alone suffered close to $40 million in damages.  Despite making what we consider was a clear case for an amended declaration, FEMA has denied that these storms should be considered as one large event.  Extending the incident period for FEMA-1899-DR-NY is consistent with FEMA policy and consistent with disaster declarations for neighboring states for the same incident period, and is critical to restoring New York communities.  

Once an appeal is requested, we will advocate fervently to see that New York receives what we believe is a fair decision.  Thank you for your consideration of this request.