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 $1,839,599.10 in federal funding to repair damages sustained to Hudson Park 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 funding will reimburse New Rochelle for repairs to the stacked stone wall, sundeck, asphalt, curbing, concreted slabs, and railings, all of which were damaged by Hurricane Sandy’s winds and storm surge. Schumer, Gillibrand and Engel have been pushing FEMA to provide New Rochelle with the remaining funds it needs to fully repair damages to the Hudson Park Beach. Earlier in July, they were able to secure the initial $1.4 million New Rochelle requested for repair work on the municipal marina and its docks. In March, Schumer and Engel called on FEMA to quickly approve federal funding for the City of New Rochelle to rebuild the Municipal Marina and Hudson Park beach, and Schumer personally visited the site to see the damage first-hand. 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 for both the Hudson Park and Municipal Marina with the understanding that it would eventually be reimbursed, a process that Schumer, Gillibrand and Engel said was delayed for too long.
“I am proud to announce that FEMA will provide the City of New Rochelle with the additional $1.8 million in funds it desperately needs to make repairs to its Hudson Park beach area, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy,” said Senator Schumer. “We went to bat for New Rochelle when bureaucratic red tape was keeping this important rehabilitation project from getting off the ground, and we are pleased that FEMA has heeded our call to swiftly release these funds to make the full reconstruction a reality. The Hudson Park beach and municipal Marina, some of New Rochelle’s best family locations, suffered damage and devastation following Hurricane Sandy, and these funds will help the city rebuild so that the Hudson Park and Marina can thrive again.”
“This second round of critical FEMA funding is just what New Rochelle needs,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must ensure New Rochelle is able to rebuild and recover. New Rochelle will put this investment to good use, continuing to repair and rebuild its municipal marina area and docks, with stronger infrastructure that can withstand the storms of the future.”
“Hurricane Sandy showed little mercy as it swept across parts of my district. Hudson Park was among the areas that were hardest hit, and the funding needed to cover the cost of repairs has strained New Rochelle’s resources,” said Congressman Engel. “I am pleased that FEMA has agreed to provide additional federal funding. New Rochelle is ready to rebuild.”
“Once again, our federal representatives have come through for New Rochelle’s taxpayers and park users,” said New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson.
Back in March, New Rochelle officials were originally told by FEMA immediately following Hurricane Sandy that this rebuilding project was eligible for 90 percent 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 percent 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 Hudson Park Beach, the storm damaged sea walls, swimming area access ramps, and various structural elements of the beach’s pavilions including a sundeck, asphalt, curbing, concreted slabs, and railings. 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.
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 percent 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 percent of their costs.