Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will reimburse $1,581,244 in disaster funding to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) transportation system, for damages mainly along the Metro-North Port Jervis line that runs parallel to the Ramapo River. These damages were caused by Tropical Storms Irene’s heavy winds and immense flooding last fall. On August 31, the MTA submitted its final request to both FEMA and its private insurer after fronting nearly $65 million to cover the costs of track damages. In his letter to FEMA following MTA’s request, Schumer urged the agency to swiftly reimburse the MTA for repair work, over a year after the storm devastated Orange County and the entire Hudson Valley.
“FEMA’s $1.5 million disaster funding for this segment of the Port Jervis MTA line is great news, and will help the MTA and commuters pay for repairs after Tropical Storm Irene caused millions in damages to the Hudson Valley rail line,” said Schumer. “While the Port Jervis line is back up and running at full speed, this funding will be critical in Orange County’s continued recovery from last year’s storm, and will ensure that the MTA and its riders don’t have to shoulder the burden of the millions in damages alone.”
“These massive storms may be over a year behind us, but Hudson Valley families are still living with much of the damage every day,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This funding will help our effort to clean up and rebuild this key rail line that Orange County commuters rely on, and help families and businesses continue on the path to recovery, and get back on their feet.”
Schumer, Gillibrand noted that the FEMA funding would address the repair of disaster related damage to the Port Jervis Branch of the Metro North Railroad between location 101-102, which consists of a section of double track 2,424 feet long running parallel to the Ramapo River. Along the track and the tracks right of way, the MTA lost a total of 7,191 tons of surface ballast rock and 9,248 tons of sub-ballast rock. This funding will allow the MTA to restore the stretch of railroad to pre-disaster conditions.
Schumer stated in August that following the storms, the MTA was forced to pay millions in repair upfront for a two-mile stretch between Suffern and Harriman that was completely washed away. He highlighted in his letter that it is now critical that FEMA reimburse the MTA, given that approximately one-third of their claims will go towards reimbursement for work completed on the Port Jervis line that has already been completed. MTA completed repair work quickly following the storm, in order to ensure that the Port Jervis line regained function as soon as possible for commuters who rely on the line to go to and from work every day. Now it is FEMA’s turn to also step up to the plate and provide this funding in a timely manner.