August 29, 2011

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge President & FEMA To Approve Emergency Declaration For Dutchess County

Schumer & Gillibrand Write to President in Support of A Federal State of Emergency Declaration for Dutchess; Cite Dangers of Significant Rainfall And Flooding From Irene

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand called on President Obama to approve New York State’s anticipated request and declare a federal state of emergency for Dutchess County in light of the severe flooding in Dutchess County following Irene. In their letter to the president, the Senators pointed out that other Hudson Valley Counties have already been declared eligible for emergency assistance, and that the flooding in Dutchess County clearly warrants the same emergency designation there.

“The Hudson Valley has been hammered with severe flooding in the wake of Irene, and Dutchess County has been no exception,” said Schumer and Gillibrand. “They deserve the same federal emergency resources that neighboring counties are getting, so that they too can prevent injuries and property damage, and help minimize further flooding. We strongly urge the President to grant this designation and approve New York State’s anticipated request as quickly as possible, so that federal emergency crews and equipment will get to Dutchess communities in time to prevent further damage.”

A federal state of emergency declaration would allow FEMA to initiate emergency protective measures in Dutchess County, for the purpose of saving lives, protecting public health and safety, and preventing damage to public and private property. Specifically, a state of emergency declaration signed by the president would allow FEMA to assist with: warning devices (barricades, signs, and announcements), search and rescue efforts, construction of levees, shelters and emergency care centers, and providing of food, water, ice and other essential needs, among other things.  

A copy of Senator Schumer and Gillibrand’s letter to President Barack Obama appears below:

August 29, 2011

Dear President Obama and Administrator Fugate:

Thank you for approving New York’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration (EM-3328) for Bronx, Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Schoharie, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties.

As indicated by FEMA Deputy Administrator Serino, the Albany to New York City corridor was the hardest hit of all New York. Included in this corridor, but not included in the amended emergency declaration, is Dutchess County. Dutchess County was hit with severe damage from the storm. Central Hudson reported that over 115,000 people lost power in Dutchess and Ulster Counties as a result of many downed trees and infrastructure damage, the second worst case in the company’s history. Nearly 80 roads remained closed and damaged after the storm due to washouts, bridge damage and drainage problems, leaving residents and commuters stranded and unable to get to work. As a result of the torrential rain, the Fallkill and Wappinger Creeks, major bodies of water located in Dutchess County, are flooded, causing many residents to have to evacuate their homes and flee to local shelters.  The storm also caused many municipalities within Dutchess County to declare state of emergencies which remain in place through today.. 

New York State plans to submit a request to amend EM-3328 to include Dutchess County, and, at this time, We ask that you approve New York State’s anticipated request. Supplemental federal assistance, specifically Public Assistance Category B, Emergency Protective Measures, is absolutely necessary in order to meet pre-positioning and readiness requirements that have overwhelmed state and local resources.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request. Please contact Grant Kerr at 202-224-6542 if you have questions or need additional information.

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer                                        
Kirsten E. Gillibrand