Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge FEMA to Approve Major Disaster Declaration for Orange and Putnam Counties

Nov 8, 2012

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand wrote to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, urging the immediate approval of New York State’s recent request to amend the major disaster declaration to include Orange and Putnam Counties in light of the severe storm damage in the Hudson Valley. In their letter, the Senators highlight the destruction Hurricane Sandy caused in Orange and Putnam Counties, including loss of electricity and significant damage to businesses and homes, both of which clearly warrant the same major declaration as neighboring counties. Specifically, Schumer and Gillibrand are requesting approval of the state’s request for FEMA Individual Assistance and Public Assistance, Categories A-G, for Orange and Putnam Counties.

“All across the Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island, Hurricane Sandy caused millions of dollars of damage to land, residences and critical infrastructure, and Orange and Putnam Counties were no exception,” said Senator Schumer. “I strongly urge FEMA to immediately issue a major disaster declaration that includes all available assistance to individuals and our municipalities in Orange and Putnam Counties because the bottom line is that residents and counties should not and cannot shoulder this financial burden on their own.”

“Hurricane Sandy’s trail of destruction tore right through these Hudson Valley counties, leaving battered homes, roads and businesses in its wake,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Wherever New Yorkers are suffering, we can’t let anything stand in the way of our effort to clean up and rebuild. Let’s make this disaster declaration official for Orange and Putnam Counties, and bring all necessary federal resources to bear without delay.”

Orange and Putnam Counties experienced significant damage to roadways, public and private infrastructure and power lines. Hundreds of roads have been closed due to downed trees and power lines, and thousands of residents are still going without power.

A copy of the Senators’ letter appears below: 

Dear Administrator Fugate:

We are writing in strong support of New York State’s request to add the Counties of Orange and Putnam to Major Disaster Declaration FEMA-4085-DR. Specifically, we support the state’s request to add Individual Assistance and Public Assistance (Categories A through G). This request is necessary to meet the urgent needs of the residents of these counties, which experienced significant amounts of damage due to Hurricane Sandy. It is our understanding that this request is currently under review by FEMA, and we urge its immediate approval.

It is clear to us that the amount of damage experienced by the residents of Orange and Putnam will exceed the county disaster thresholds. Both counties have experienced significant amounts of flooding, downed trees and power lines, damage to roadways and other infrastructure. 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. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of residents have been without power, with outages expected to continue. Local and state officials have expressed to us that FEMA assistance is urgently needed to effectively respond to the impacts of this storm and protect public safety.

We are grateful for the prompt attention that you and the entire federal government have given to quickly responding to this disaster, and for your commitment to cutting bureaucratic red-tape so that assistance can be provided as quickly and efficiently as possible. In that spirit, we strongly urge you to approve this request.