September 30, 2011

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge President Obama, FEMA to Provide Individual Assistance to Orange And Public Assistance to Ulster After Tropical Storm Lee

Schumer, Gillibrand: Orange and Ulster Counties Absolutely Deserve Federal Help in Wake of Lee

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand called on President Barack Obama and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to immediately approve individual assistance for Orange County residents and public assistance to Ulster County in the wake of Tropical Storm Lee. Public assistance helps local governments fund cleanup and recovery efforts of public buildings and infrastructure, and individual assistance provides housing, small business and other aid.

“The Hudson Valley has been absolutely pummeled by these back-to-back storms,” said Schumer. “Local governments, families, and business owners shouldn't be left to shoulder this massive burden alone, and its FEMA's job to step up to the plate and deliver. Administrator Fugate and President Obama should extend this assistance as quickly as possible, so that it can reach the individuals who need it the most, and help overburdened local governments rebuild and get the local economy back on track as quickly as possible.”

“Families and businesses in Orange and Ulster Counties are in dire need of help to dig out from this devastating storm, and begin to recover,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Roads, bridges, homes and businesses are being washed away from massive flooding. Now it’s time to put all necessary resources on the ground where we need them. I will fight to secure all the federal funding our families need.” 

Orange County was granted eligibility for public assistance earlier this week, but Schumer and Gillibrand believe that Orange County is entitled to both types of emergency aid through FEMA. The county has not yet been issued Individual Assistance for citizens who suffered losses after Tropical Storm Lee, which includes the Individual and Households program, disaster unemployment insurance, and Small Business Administration loans. Ulster County should also be eligible for public assistance to reimburse communities for debris removal, emergency response efforts and restoration of public infrastructure.

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand’s full letter to President Obama and Administrator Fugate:

Dear President Obama and Administrator Fugate, 

            We write to express our strong support for the additional designation of Oneida and Orange County for Individual Assistance and Ulster County for Public Assistance under Tropical Storm Lee (DR-4031).  This declaration has already begun to aid thousands of individuals in other effective counties, and extending this assistance to these additional counties would provide essential help to these areas as they seek to rebuild. 

            All three of these counties were hit hard by heavy rain and flooding as a result of Tropical Storm Lee and sustained substantial costs responding to the storms.  In Oneida County, many residents along Sauqoit Creek sustained substantial damage to their homes, losing furnaces and other essential equipment just as cold weather begins to set in.  In Ulster County, streams and creeks such as the Wallkill and the Esopus, already overflowing from the rains of Hurricane Irene caused further flooding that significantly damaged public infrastructure, along with significant damage along the Bushkill Creek to Watson Hollow Road in West Shokan.  Homes in Washingtonville in Orange County were evacuated and severely damaged due to additional flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee.

          We appreciate your continued efforts to ensure that New York residents and communities have the resources they need to recover from Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene.   Should you have any questions, please contact Grant Kerr at 202-224-6542 or Kevin Fink at 202-224-4451.