Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand called on President Obama to declare a federal state of emergency for New York in light of the projected path of Hurricane Irene. Governor Cuomo officially requested the declaration yesterday. In their letter to the president, Schumer and Gillibrand pointed out that New York has seen near record rainfall amounts during August and grounds in and around New York City are already saturated.
“New York has already been battered with heavy rains this summer, saturating New York City and Long Island in particular,” said Schumer and Gillibrand. “Significant wind and rain from Hurricane Irene presents the very real possibility for major flooding throughout the region. We must do everything possible to ensure we have the federal resources in place to protect the largest metropolitan region in the country from what could be a very dangerous storm.”
A federal state of emergency declaration would allow FEMA to initiate emergency protective measures before, during, and after the Irene hits New York, 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.
Current weather modeling has Irene making landfall in New York sometime on Sunday, as either a category 1 or 2 storm. Irene has the potential to deliver up to 10 inches of rain and winds up to 75 miles per hour.
A copy of the Senators’ letters to President Barack Obama appears below:
August 26, 2011
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
The Honorable W. Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
US Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472
Dear President Obama and Administrator Fugate:
We write today to support the hurricane pre-landfall emergency requested submitted by the state of New York on August 25, 2011. Supplemental federal assistance, specifically Public Assistance Category B, is absolutely necessary in order to meet pre-positioning and readiness requirements that would overwhelm the state’s resources.
The National Weather Service projects that the impending storm will impact Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, Richmond, Nassau, and Suffolk counties as a major hurricane. To combat this storm, the state has already mobilized ten state agencies to alleviate the conditions of this emergency. Activated agencies include the New York State Office of Emergency Management (NYSOEM), which is coordinating preparations with the National Weather Service, Federal, State, and local partners; the New York State Emergency Operations Center; the New York City Office of Emergency Management, which has begun support of the planning and preparation for Hurricane Irene; and situation rooms in both Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
A federal declaration would enhance the aforementioned preparation measures already undertaken by New York. Specifically, a federal declaration would provide critical readiness equipment, including a staging area team, access to the FEMA ambulance contract, a defense coordinating unit, and a communications support team. Federal resources can help ensure a well-coordinated and effective response to a major natural disaster, and, at this time, we respectfully urge you to approve New York’s hurricane pre-landfall emergency request.
As the nature of the storm and its impact on New York becomes more apparent, we also ask that you look favorably on any request by New York to amend its submission, such as through the request of Category A or other public assistance or individual assistance.