Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand announced that FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has heeded their call and amended the President’s major disaster declaration for New York to include Westchester and Rockland Counties in light of the severe flooding and wind damage in the Hudson Valley following Sandy. Specifically, residents will be eligible for Individual Assistance and the counties will be eligible for Public Assistance categories A & B, which includes debris removal, and emergency protective measures. The Senators also announced that this makes Westchester and Rockland counties eligible for 100 percent of the federal share for ten days for emergency power restoration assistance and emergency public transportation assistance, including direct Federal assistance, beginning October 30, 2012 through November 9, 2012.
Schumer and Gillibrand wrote to FEMA Administrator Fugate on Thursday, following New York State’s official request, and pointed out that neighboring counties in New York City and Long Island have already received a major disaster declaration, and that the devastation in Westchester and Rockland Counties, including flooding, loss of electricity, significant damage to businesses and homes, and even death, clearly warrants the same major declaration.
“We knew all along that Westchester and Rockland Counties needed help to cope with the devastation left by Sandy. Now that FEMA has heeded our call and made a great deal of the necessary funding available, we can begin the process of helping repair and rebuild from the storm,” said Schumer. “The Hudson Valley has been hammered with severe flooding and dangerous debris in the wake of Sandy, and Westchester and Rockland Counties have borne the brunt of the damage. This federal disaster assistance is necessary because it will give reassurance to our communities that the federal government will be there to help as they continue their response efforts and begin to recover from the storm.”
“FEMA’s help is on the way to the lower Hudson Valley that wasn’t spared Hurricane Sandy’s path of destruction,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This was a clear decision and will help our effort to put all necessary resources on the ground where we need them to help families and businesses clean up, rebuild, and get back on their feet. And we will keep working to make sure no bureaucracy stands in the way of communities getting the assistance they need.”
Westchester and Rockland Counties have been hit particularly hard by Hurricane Sandy. Three individuals from Westchester County were killed as a result of the storm. In addition, communities like Yonkers, Rye, Port Chester, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle and other Sound Shore communities have experienced massive damage. In Westchester County, there are about 200,000 Con Edison and NYSEG customers without power and tens of thousands of Rockland residents have also lost power. A significant percentage of the individual communities have gone without power since the storm hit on Monday evening. Throughout both counties, hundreds of roads had to be closed due to downed trees and power lines, many schools are closed for a full week. There are also a great deal of downed trees, infrastructure damage, road, bridge and drainage problems throughout the region.