April 15, 2013

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge President Obama to Issue Disaster Declaration For New York State Following Winter Storm Nemo

Suffolk County Experienced the Worst of the Storm’s Impact, Hundreds of Snow Plows and Personnel Dispatched to Help Recover from Winter Blizzard

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand urged President Obama to quickly approve Governor Cuomo’s request for a Disaster Declaration for New York State after this year's winter storm on February 8th and 9th that caused extensive damage and required state resources as New Yorkers were beginning the recovery process to recover and rebuild from Superstorm Sandy. In an effort to help local communities and expedite aid, Schumer and Gillibrand today, in a personal letter to President Obama, pushed for an immediate Disaster Declaration, which would allow for millions in federal assistance. Senators urged feds to grant the state’s request to add Public Assistance (Categories A through C, E, and G), including snow removal for Suffolk County, and Hazard Mitigation statewide.

“Winter Storm Nemo was severe for Suffolk County residents and state and local officials did everything they could to respond efficiently,” said Senator Schumer. “Nemo brought heavy snow and strong winds, creating a massive recovery effort after the storm. Governor Cuomo’s request for a federal disaster declaration should be quickly approved by the feds so that local taxpayers are not on the hook entirely for Nemo’s costs.”

“We have experienced some of the worst natural disasters and winter storms in recent memory,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Suffolk County bore the worst of the storm’s impact on New York. Now that Governor Cuomo has requested a federal disaster declaration, I urge President Obama to quickly come through with the resources New Yorkers need to recover. Residents throughout Suffolk County and New York should not be left shouldering all of these costs alone.”

 

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand emphasized that the amount of damage experienced by Suffolk County residents goes far beyond disaster thresholds. Suffolk was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy and was still in the recovery phase when a serious, severe storm in February struck with nearly three feet of snow.  More than 650 pieces of snow removal equipment and nearly 1,000 personnel were dispatched to Suffolk to help with recovery efforts and clear roads. Statewide, NYS Department of Transportation deployed nearly 1,280 snowplows and more than 1,400 personnel.

 

Both Suffolk County and New York State experienced damage to public and private infrastructure due to heavy wet snow, strong winds, downed trees and power lines, damage to roadways, homes and businesses. Throughout New York, there were hundreds of roads closed due to the snow, downed trees and power lines, and motorists stranded on roadways overnight. Additionally, thousands of residents were left without power, and state police and the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs were called in to help emergency workers reach motorists.

 

Full text of Schumer and Gillibrand’s letter is below:

 

Dear President Obama,

 

            We are writing in strong support of New York State’s request to declare a major disaster for the state as a result of Winter Storm Nemo, which impacted New York on February 8 and 9, 2013. Specifically, we support the state’s request to add Public Assistance (Categories A through C, E, and G), including snow removal, for Suffolk County, and Hazard Mitigation statewide. This request is necessary to meet the urgent needs of the residents of these counties, which experienced significant amounts of damage due to Winter Storm Nemo. It is our understanding that this request is currently under review by FEMA, and we urge its immediate approval.

 

            It is clear to us that the amount of damage experienced by the residents of Suffolk County will exceed the county disaster thresholds. As you know, Suffolk County was severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 and was still in the recovery phase when Nemo struck. Both Suffolk County and the State of New York have experienced profound damage to public and private infrastructure due to heavy wet snow, strong winds, downed trees and power lines, damage to roadways, homes and businesses. Throughout the state, hundreds of roads were closed due to the snow, downed trees and power lines, leaving motorists stranded on roadways overnight. Additionally, thousands of residents were left without power, and state police and the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs had to be called in to help emergency workers reach motorists. Local and state officials have expressed to us that FEMA assistance is urgently needed to effectively respond to the impacts of this storm and protect public safety.

 

            We are grateful for your prompt attention to this request as well as the assistance you have given New York in the wake of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and Superstorm Sandy. In that spirit, we strongly urge you to approve this request.