Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the New York State Canal Flood Warning System has received $1,483,125 in federal funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the installation of rain and stream gauges along the Mohawk River, Oswego River and Upper Hudson River Basin. Stream gauges, also known as precipitation gauges, measure rainfall in areas at risk of flooding. These stream gauges also measure the water level of rivers and stream systems to detect cresting waters. With this funding, the Canal Flood Warning System in New York State is combining forecasting, early monitoring systems, and precise flood warnings to get first responders and local communities the real-time data they need in the risk or event of flooding. This approximately $1.5 million obligation is the final installment of federal funding for the project, meaning that now 100% of the total cost of installing these stream gauges will be covered by FEMA. Previously only 75% of this $5.9 million project was being offset by federal funds. The risk being mitigated is riverine flooding within three New York River basins: the Mohawk, Oswego, and Upper Hudson River Basins. The following counties are included in these basins: Albany, Cayuga, Chemung, Essex, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Ontario, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Tompkins, Warren, Wayne, and Yates. Schumer and Gillibrand announced other federal funding obligations for these gauges in November 2013 and April 2014.
“We have learned from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, Superstorm Sandy, and the periodic flooding in Upstate New York that we cannot shortchange programs that our communities rely on to keep citizens safe and well-informed, and that help first responders. By funding, and thereby protecting, our existing stream gauge network and placing new stream and rain gauges, we will be able to better predict and mitigate future floods,” said Senator Schumer. “The Canal Flood Warning System is a comprehensive plan to use the latest technology to New York’s advantage in the battle against flood damage, and these stream gauges make this effort possible. Stream gauges are the first line of defense in river flooding, and I will continue to fight for federal funding to support New York State’s flood-prevention network and bring a measure of peace of mind to residents all along the Mohawk Valley, Oswego River and Upper Hudson Valley. We have a solemn responsibility to prepare our communities in the event of natural disasters and always do our best to prevent loss of life and property—stream gauges do both for pennies on the dollar.”
“We must continue to make these critically needed federal investments that will help strengthen vital infrastructure in upstate New York,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Over the past few years our state has been hit with back-to-back storms and heavy flooding; severely impacting our homes, schools, farms, and businesses. We must be better prepared for future storms and ensure the sustainability of our communities by investing resources geared towards mitigating future devastation. This federal funding is another step in the right direction as we continue to push for projects like these that will improve our flood warning systems. These enhancements will help prepare us for future storms and can protect our communities from severe flooding.”
This grant will fund the installation of numerous precipitation gauges to be used in combination with existing monitoring devices and data to monitor changing conditions throughout each watershed as severe weather events occur. The risk being mitigated is riverine flooding within three New York River basins: the Mohawk, Oswego, and Upper Hudson River Basins. The following counties are included in these basins: Albany, Cayuga, Chemung, Essex, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Ontario, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Tompkins, Warren, Wayne, and Yates.
The warning system currently provides emergency responders, local officials and residents detailed information that allows more effective planning, response and notification, thereby reducing the potential effects on the public through evacuation or preparation. The flood warning system also provides local emergency managers with accurate information to safely manage decision making in flood prone areas including evacuations and road closures. This data can be integrated with National Weather Service precipitation forecasts to provide near real-time stream flow and water elevation forecasts. More importantly, the flood warning system also includes a system optimization component and flood mitigation analyses to optimize the timing of reservoir releases and water control structure operations to minimize flood damage.
The funds were awarded under Section 404 of the Stafford Act, which provides for Hazard Mitigation discretionary funding for disaster relief and emergency assistance. This specific pot of funding comes out of the Section 404 funds associated with Tropical Storm Irene. The purpose of Section 404 mitigation funds is to promote measures that reduce future loss to life and property, protect federal investment in public infrastructure and ultimately, to help build disaster resistant communities.