Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge FEMA To Swiftly Review and Approve Disaster Declaration For Central And Other Upstate New York Counties Impacted By July’s Severe Thunderstorms And Flooding

Sep 1, 2017

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to quickly review and approve New York State’s request for a major disaster declaration following July’s thunderstorms and severe flooding. Severe storms impacted communities across Central New York and the Mohawk Valley including: Broome, Cayuga, Cortland, Essex, Franklin, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence, Tioga, Warren, Washington, and Wyoming. Communities across Upstate New York – from the Southern Tier to the Mohawk Valley and Western New York, through the Capital Region – experienced severe thunderstorms and flash flooding during the month of July, which have saturated the ground and put communities at continual risk of even more flooding. Some areas were hit with as much as 6 inches of rain on July 1st and continued to see heavy rains throughout July.

“Upstate communities across Central New York, the Capital District, the Finger Lakes and the Mohawk Valley were ravaged by severe thunderstorms and flooding, and it is absolutely crucial that we get them the resources they need to recover,” said Senator Schumer. “I am urging FEMA to review and approve a federal disaster declaration and provide all forms of available aid for impacted municipalities ASAP. This federal disaster assistance is necessary because it will give reassurance to our communities that the federal government will be there to help respond and rebuild.”

“New Yorkers should have the support they need from the federal government to help recover after devastating heavy rains and flooding in counties across Upstate New York. Providing this FEMA aide in a timely manner is vital and will help stem the uncertainty ahead,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am calling on FEMA to quickly review and approve this disaster declaration that will offer much-needed support to our communities.”

If a disaster declaration is declared, grant assistance would be made available to state and local governments, as well as certain non-profit organizations, to reimburse costs incurred for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities. This funding is available on a cost-sharing basis; FEMA generally covers 75% of the eligible costs for permanent and emergency work.  After any severe storm the first step in the declaration process is for the state to request a Preliminary Damage Assessment, during which FEMA representatives join state, local, and other officials to survey damage across storm-impacted counties to help determine whether the cost of the disaster meets the criteria for a federal disaster declaration. Additionally, in a recent one-on-on meeting, Schumer asked FEMA Administrator Long to stand ready to stand ready to swiftly review and approve any forthcoming requests from New York State for a major disaster declaration. Now that the state has officially submitted a request for federal assistance, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand urged FEMA to support the request and recommend that the President issue a major disaster declaration for the 15 counties impacted by the severe flooding.