February 13, 2019

Schumer, Gillibrand And Brindisi Urge Fema To Approve Much-Needed $3.9 Million Grant To Help Alleviate Severe & Repetitive Flooding Along Sauquoit Creek; Say Fed Funding Would Advance Critical Phases Of Current Mitigation Projects Intended To Protect Residents & Businesses From Further Destruction

Over The Last Decade, Oneida County Has Been Battered By Repetitive Floods From Sauquoit Creek, Causing Millions Of Dollars Of Damage To Public And Private Infrastructure, Displacing Families From Their Homes And Increasing The Burden On Emergency Responders; Schumer, Gillibrand And Brindisi Today Call On FEMA To Expeditiously Approve Whitestown’s Application For Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Funding To Expand Scope Of The Sauquoit Creek Channel And Floodplain Project, Which Would Construct Ne

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Anthony Brindisi today wrote to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to give their full support for the Town of Whitestown’s application for $3.9 million in federal funding through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to alleviate repetitive flooding along Sauquoit Creek. The Representatives explained that this funding would allow Whitestown and Oneida County to implement critical aspects of the Sauquoit Creek Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project. Federal funding for this project would be used to construct 12 floodplain benches along a one-mile-plus corridor of lower Sauquoit Creek and is designed to protect homes, businesses and public infrastructure from damage caused by large-scale flooding events. The Representatives said that Oneida County has been battered by severe flooding over the last decade, costing localities millions of dollars in damage and displacing families and businesses. Therefore, they called on FEMA to immediately approve the Town of Whitestown’s application so additional floodplain benches could be constructed to protect the community from flooding events.

“Towns and villages throughout Oneida County have been ravaged by flooding from Sauquoit Creek over the last decade, causing millions in dollars of damage to public and private infrastructure, displacing families, burdening emergency responders and harming the regional economy. County and town officials have recognized the need for a long-term solution and started implementation of a real plan to significantly reduce flooding along lower Sauquoit Creek, but additional funding is needed to advance critical stages of the project,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why today, Senator Gillibrand, Congressman Brindisi and I are calling on FEMA to do its part and deliver funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program so local officials can expand the scope of the project and further protect homes and businesses from more devastation.”

“Over the past several years, severe and repetitive flooding along the Sauquoit Creek has caused extensive damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure throughout Oneida County. There were instances where storms and the resulting flooding have trapped residents in their homes, displaced them away from their homes, closed roads for days at a time, and caused a loss of power,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Town of Whitestown has created a plan to mitigate these dangers, and I am calling on FEMA to provide the much-needed funding to support their work and make sure their plan can be completed.” 

“Over the last decade, Sauquoit Creek flooding has wreaked havoc in Oneida County. No one should have to worry that an ice jam or spring thaw could lead them to lose their home or their livelihood,” said Congressman Brindisi. “Our local, state, and federal leaders have worked together to mitigate the problem but more help is needed. That’s why Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and I are calling on FEMA to provide funding from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to expand the project and find a long-term solution. We need to get to work as soon as possible to protect Upstate New York homes and businesses and prevent any further damage.”

“I want to thank Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Congressman Brindisi for their support and dedication to securing much-needed FEMA funding to help alleviate the flooding that continually devastates the residents of the Village of Whitesboro,” saidOneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “Oneida County has dedicated $225,000 for engineering oversight and management of the Town of Whitestown’s flood mitigation project through the funding I made available after the floods that ravaged the area in July 2017. The County also applied for a $2 million Green Infrastructure Grant through the New York State Department of Environmental Facilities Corporation that will assist in making the construction possible and ease the impact of future flooding. This $3.9 million in FEMA funding would go a long way in closing the gap this $12 million project needs to be completed.”

“I commend and greatly thank Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Brindisi for their strong support of the Town of Whitestown’s application for federal funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. I also thank them for their support of the Sauquoit Creek Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project, and realizing its successful completion will benefit residents and business owners who have been devastated by repeated flooding. For far too long, far too many in the Town of Whitestown and Village of Whitesboro have been on the receiving end of significant flooding and damage with no real long-term answers or solutions. The Sauquoit Creek Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project is significant because it is the largest flood mitigation project in Whitestown’s history, and the first real attempt at implementing a proactive, long-term plan to alleviate historical flooding. It would be impossible for the Town of Whitestown to complete a project of this magnitude on its own. Support from the federal, state and county level is critical, and continues to be a big help. I, too, urge FEMA to approve the Town of Whitestown’s funding application as soon as possible so the Sauquoit Creek Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project can continue to progress,” saidTown of Whitestown Supervisor Shaun J. Kaleta.

The Sauquoit Creek Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project was initiated in 2016 by the Town of Whitestown, in consultation with Oneida County and New York State, to investigate and implement solutions to stop flooding along Sauquoit Creek. The Representatives explained that the most critical aspect of the project involves the construction of 12 floodplain benches, which are low-lying areas adjacent to a body of moving water that temporarily store floodwaters. The benches will feature three main components – hydrologic, vegetative and habitat restoration – which together will help stabilize the creek’s channel and considerably reduce flooding during storm events. With the help of millions of dollars in grant funding from Oneida County and New York State, initial phases of the project are being implemented, and the first of several floodplain benches are being constructed. However, with the entire project expected to cost more than $12 million, additional resources are needed to construct additional floodplain benches along lower Sauquoit Creek on Commercial Drive and in the Village of Whitesboro. With Whitestown applying for $3.9 million in funding from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to close the gap, Schumer, Gillibrand and Brindisi are urging FEMA to approve those funds immediately.

Schumer added, “What makes federal support so critical is that with each additional floodplain bench constructed, there will be additional flood relief. Ultimately, this can help improve residents’ safety, lower flood insurance premiums and enhance property values.”

Since 2011, the Town of Whitestown and surrounding areas in Oneida County have been hit by several major floods, which have caused millions of dollars in damage to both public and private infrastructure. In August of 2011, Whitestown received 12 consecutive hours of rain from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which flooded Sauquoit Creek, forced 14,000 households in the region to lose power and damaged homes, roads and infrastructure. Two years later in 2013, more flooding occurred between late June and early July, damaging much of the same infrastructure as two years before, and resulting in many families being temporarily displaced from their homes. In July 2017, Whitestown was hit again by severe flooding as a result of over 6 inches of rain in just 48 hours. Lastly, Town officials say, ice jams have also been responsible for flooding Sauquoit Creek during unseasonably warm winter months. They pointed to these incidents, along with a rise in extreme weather events, as proof of the necessity of the Sauquoit Creek Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project, and called on FEMA to approve funding to help it move forward as soon as possible.

FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program provides funding under Section 404 of the Stafford Act, the federal disaster law that supplies aid to states and localities to implement long-term resiliency measures after a major disaster. The purpose of these grants is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster. 

A copy of Schumer, Gillibrand and Brindisi’s letter to FEMA appears below.

We write in support of the application submitted by the Town of Whitestown in Oneida County, NY for funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (FEMA-4322 and 4348-DR-NY) to alleviate historical flooding along Sauquoit Creek. Such funding will enable Whitestown to implement critical aspects the Sauquoit Creek Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project designed to protect homes, businesses and public infrastructure from damage caused by large scale flooding events. 

Over the past decade, severe and repetitive flooding of Sauquoit Creek has occurred at an alarming rate, causing significant damage to public and private infrastructure, displacing families and costing localities millions of dollars. Through the Sauquoit Creek Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project, the town of Whitestown, Oneida County and New York State have developed a long-term solution to combat this frequent flooding and we commend them for their efforts. While the first phase of the project has been initiated with state and local funds, additional federal funding is needed to expand the scope of the project and further protect homes and businesses from more devastation.

The most critical aspect of the project involves the construction of several floodplain benches, which are low-lying areas adjacent to a body of moving water that temporarily store floodwaters. With funding, Whitestown will be able to construct additional floodplain benches along lower Sauquoit Creek on Commercial Drive. The benches will feature three main components – hydrologic, vegetative and habitat restoration – which together will help stabilize the creek’s channel and considerably reduce flooding during storm events. With each additional floodplain bench constructed, there will be more flood relief, making federal support critical.

Each additional phase of the Sauquoit Creek Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project will make strides towards improving residents’ safety, reducing the burden on local emergency services, lowering flood insurance premiums and enhancing property values.

Thank you for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact our offices with any questions.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United State Senator

Anthony J. Brindisi

United States Congressman