August 11, 2009

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge FEMA to Work with NYS to Conduct Preliminary Disaster Assessments for Counties Devastated by Recent Flooding

Eight Counties Across New York State Suffered Severe Damages Due to Recent Flooding and Storm Damage

Following severe summer storms that have wreaked havoc on the lives, homes, and business of residents throughout eight New York counties, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today wrote to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in support of the State of New York's request for technical assistance to conduct joint Preliminary Disaster Assessments (PDAs) for Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Columbia, Delaware, Erie, Genesee, Rensselaer and Sullivan counties. The results of these assessments will provide a comprehensive overview of the storm's damages and help to determine whether New York State is eligible for federal funding to help recover from the storms.

"Communities across New York State have sustained widespread and devastating damages from recent summer storms and it is critical that we immediately assess these damages in order to initiate the recovery process," said Schumer. "With a commitment from FEMA to help NYS review these damages, we can ensure that the affected counties have access to the technical resources they need to begin putting their communities back together."

"Nothing is more important than the safety of New York families," Senator Gillibrand said. "We need FEMA on the ground for an accurate assessment of the damage done to communities here so we can bring relief to the families and businesses hit by this storm. I will continue working with Senator Schumer and all the local officials to make sure we're bringing help to those in need."

Severe summer storms have led to widespread destruction and property damage throughout New York State since July 29.  Yesterday, August 10th, heavy thunderstorms and severe flooding added to the damage, overturning foundations of homes and businesses, crippling water and wastewater systems, and rendering main thoroughfares impassable. Flooding hit the Village of Gowanda in Erie County particularly hard, leading to the tragic loss of 2 lives in the small community.

In order for communities to begin to address the widespread destruction and property loss, the necessary resources must be made available to the communities working to recover.

In an effort to secure these resources for the affected counties, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand wrote to FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate urging him to support New York State's request for technical assistance to evaluate the extent of the storms and flooding damage to Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Columbia, Delaware, Erie, Genesee, Rensselaer and Sullivan counties.

In the letter the Senators wrote, "As local and state officials continue rescue operations and begin to pick up from the storm's wreckage, we ask that FEMA provide the necessary technical assistance to the affected New York communities."

A full copy of the letter is below:

August 11, 2009

The Honorable W. Craig Fugate
Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street S.W. Washington, D.C. 20472

Dear Administrator Fugate,

We write to support the State of New York's request for technical assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to conduct joint Preliminary Disaster Assessments (PDAs) for Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Columbia, Delaware, Erie, Genesee, Rensselaer and Sullivan counties, which have been devastated by recent flooding and storm damage.  Beginning on July 29th, severe summer storms have wreaked havoc on the lives, homes, and business of residents throughout these eight New York counties. We respectfully request your assistance to accurately compile damage data as these communities begin to work toward recovery.

Just yesterday, heavy thunderstorms and severe flooding caused widespread damage across New York: overturning foundations of homes and businesses, crippling water and wastewater systems, and rendering main thoroughfares impassable. Residents have been evacuated from their homes and in Western New York, the Tri-County Memorial Hospital sustained extensive damages requiring Red Cross officials to set up a field hospital at a local athletic field in order to treat patients. Flooding has hit the Village of Gowanda in Erie County particularly hard, leading to the tragic loss of 2 lives in the small community. As local and state officials continue rescue operations and begin to pick up from the storm's wreckage, we ask that FEMA provide the necessary technical assistance to the affected New York communities.

We therefore support New York State's request for technical assistance from FEMA to evaluate the extensive storm and flooding damage to Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Columbia, Delaware, Erie, Genesee, Rensselaer and Sullivan counties. As communities begin to address the widespread destruction and property loss, we must ensure that every possible resource is made swiftly available to those teams and communities working to recover. Thank you for your attention to this important matter, and please do not hesitate to contact us if we may be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer
U.S. Senator

Kirsten E. Gillibrand
U.S. Senator