Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand called on President Barack Obama and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to immediately approve individual assistance for Staten Island residents in the wake of tropical storm Irene. President Obama granted individual and public assistance to New York counties this morning and while Richmond County was granted public assistance for local governments, individual homeowners have not yet been granted individual assistance to help provide housing and aid in rebuilding efforts. Schumer and Gillibrand are calling on the Obama Administration to quickly expand the declaration and provide individual assistance so that Staten Island homeowners can see relief.
“Staten Island residents experienced disastrous flooding as a result of Irene, and they deserve all the help they need to get back on their feet,” said Schumer. “While I welcome the administration’s move to swiftly provide immediate public assistance, we need to make sure that individual assistance is also available for Staten Island residents. I strongly urge President Obama and FEMA officials to make this assistance available immediately.”
“Staten Island families and businesses are in need of help to dig out from this devastating storm, and begin to recover,” Senator Gillibrand said. “President Obama was right to declare a major disaster area for New York State. 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.”
“It is imperative that the individuals in the neighborhoods affected on Staten Island be included in a federal disaster relief plan,” said Assemblyman Cusick. “Working with my constituents after the storm, it is evident federal relief is necessary for these residents to restore the devastating damage done to their homes.”
Irene caused significant flooding throughout Staten Island, including five-foot flood waters in Willowbrook that forced sixty-one people, including three babies, to be rescued from 21 homes. Flooded streets were reported throughout the borough, from Doty Avenue and Martling Avenue to parts of Hylan Boulevard, as well as in Bloomfield and along parts of Victory Boulevard.
Schumer and Gillibrand believe that Staten Island is entitled to both types of emergency aid through FEMA. The county has not yet been issued Individual Assistance for citizens who suffered losses, which includes the Individual and Households program, disaster unemployment insurance, and Small Business Administration loans. This morning, the county was granted Public Assistance to reimburse communities for debris removal, emergency response efforts and restoration of public infrastructure. Counties throughout New York have been awarded hazard mitigation grants which support projects that reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property from natural hazards and their effects.
“The damage Irene inflicted on Staten Island clearly warrants individual assistance, and we’re going to fight tooth and nail to get it,” continued Schumer and Gillibrand.