Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Eliot Engel announced that the City of New Rochelle will receive $1,408,044.61 in federal funding to repair damages sustained to the municipal marina and docks during Hurricane Sandy. This funding will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which will shoulder 90 percent of the total cost of rebuilding and rehabilitation. The total cost for New Rochelle to repair the damaged marina offices and docks is $1,564,494.01. Schumer, Gillibrand and Engel also said that they will be pushing FEMA to provide New Rochelle with the remaining $2.5 million it needs to fully repair the damages to the Hudson Park Beach. In March, Schumer and Engel called on FEMA to quickly approve approximately $4 million in federal funding for the City of New Rochelle to rebuild the Municipal Marina and Hudson Park beach and Schumer visited the site to see the damage first-hand. The scope of work to repair the damaged marina office building and docks includes items such as removal and replacement of the floating dock, finger slips, electric lines, fuel lines, fuel shack, and wood pilings. As part of the project, wave attenuation chambers will be added to the bottom of the floating fuel dock. At multiple points over the past year, the city was forced to incur additional expenses and project delays due to FEMA’s bureaucratic red tape. In particular, New Rochelle already put $1 million toward the rebuilding process with the understanding that it would eventually be reimbursed, a process that Schumer, Gillibrand and Engel said was delayed for too long.
“I applaud FEMA for recognizing the importance of this project and cutting through the bureaucratic red tape to provide the funding New Rochelle needs to make repairs to the municipal marina area and docks that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy’s wrath. But more funding is needed to make the full reconstruction a reality, and I will watch FEMA like a hawk to ensure they provide the additional funding that the city needs for Hudson Park beach repairs as well,” said Senator Schumer. “These New Rochelle treasures suffered serious damage and devastation during Hurricane Sandy and are clearly eligible for the disaster relief funding that FEMA approved for Westchester County after the storm.”
“New Rochelle’s infrastructure suffered unprecedented damage caused by Superstorm Sandy,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This critical FEMA funding will help provide the community with the tools and resources they need to start recovery efforts that restore the municipal marina area and docks. I will continue to work with my colleagues and localities to ensure New Rochelle is able to rebuild and make a full recovery, with even stronger infrastructure that better withstands future storms.”
“Superstorm Sandy paralyzed parts of my Congressional District, and New Rochelle is among the communities still recovering from the damage. Unnecessary delays in federal relief have stalled recovery efforts, and I am pleased that New Rochelle will finally receive the assistance it needs to repair the damage done to the Municipal Marina,” said Congressman Engel. “I applaud FEMA for working closely with New York officials as we strive to rebuild, but this funding is not enough to reverse the damage Sandy inflicted upon our neighborhoods. I will continue working with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to ensure that our communities have the resources needed to rebuild.”
“This is great news for the New Rochelle taxpayers and for all residents who care about the waterfront,” said Noam Bramson, Mayor of New Rochelle. “We are grateful to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, as well as Congressman Engel for their support.”
Back in March, New Rochelle officials were originally told by FEMA immediately following Hurricane Sandy that this rebuilding project was eligible for 90% federal reimbursement, but FEMA had since declared that the damage was not all caused by the storm and was therefore ineligible. This abrupt change forced New Rochelle to re-submit its application for funding, with new forms of evidence, at multiple points over the past year, which forced the city to incur additional expenses and project delays. Following the multiple submissions, in coordination with New York State’s Emergency Management Office (SEMO), The City of New Rochelle submitted its application for funding approval again. Schumer and Engel then urged FEMA & SEMO in March to approve the application as quickly as possible, so that the beach and marina can be brought back into a state of good repair. Due to lack of certainty, repairs are less than 10% complete.
During Superstorm Sandy, sustained winds of roughly 75 miles per hour, as well as a storm surge as high as 10 feet, caused significant damage to New Rochelle’s Hudson Park Beach and Municipal Marina. At the Municipal Marina, the storm caused docks, slips and gangways to twist, break and crack; and sent floodwater rushing into the Marina Office, causing severe damage. The storm also knocked boats that were stored for the winter off of their supports and left them strewn about the parking lot once the water receded. At Hudson Park Beach, the storm damaged sea walls, swimming area access ramps, and various structural elements of the beach’s pavilions.
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, FEMA initially deemed the project eligible for reimbursement, but pivoted shortly thereafter and declared that the damage at Hudson Park Beach and Municipal Marina was not caused by Sandy. With this new declaration, New Rochelle was no longer eligible for federal funding and was forced to hire additional engineers to prove the impact of Sandy and re-apply for this federal aid. After submitting its second application, FEMA once again denied New Rochelle the funding that it was seeking.
In total, New Rochelle estimates that the rebuilding will cost $3.96 million, and is seeking Public Assistance funding from FEMA through its Disaster Relief Fund. Of that total, the City of New Rochelle has committed approximately $1 million dollars throughout the process, at points when the City expected to be considered eligible by FEMA. This includes an estimated $80,000 on Hudson Park, $177,000 at the Municipal Marina and a recent approval by the City Council to spend an additional $745,000 in the immediate future. However, City of New Rochelle officials note that they cannot afford to spend any additional funding until it receives both reimbursement for the money it has already spent and assurance that it will be reimbursed for 90% of the cost of the entire rebuilding project. Projects in approved disaster counties like Westchester Country are eligible for Public Assistance funding and should be reimbursed by FEMA for 90% of their costs.