Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Urge State To Request Immediate Federal Disaster Declaration For Long Island Beaches Devastated By Recent Storms; Senators Pledge Support For Efforts

Dec 3, 2009

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand
called on New York State to request a federal disaster declaration as soon as
possible for the Long Island beaches ravaged by recent storms in order to make
them and other nearby beaches eligible for federal disaster aid to pay for the
significant repairs required. Schumer and Gillibrand said that the initial
damage estimates show that Long Island is well above the required minimum
needed to be eligible for aid. After the State requests the declaration,
Schumer and Gillibrand can push the Administration for swift approval. Damage
and erosion up and down the Long Island shore line have created a near crisis
situation, with dunes so severely eroded they are at risk for breach this
winter.  FEMA is set to tour Suffolk’s damage this week with State and
local emergency management officials.

“We have to do a full court press at all levels of government
because Long Island’s precious beaches are in dangerous condition and need this
disaster aid now,” Schumer said. “The disaster declaration request will allow
us at the federal level to push for quick approval of the desperately needed

“It is critical that we open up additional funds for the
replenishment of Long Island’s beaches as quickly as possible,” Senator Gillibrand
said. “We cannot just sit here and wait for a severe winter storm to devastate
our coastal communities throughout Suffolk County and Fire Island. Once
Governor Paterson requests a federal disaster declaration, I will work with
Senator Schumer to ensure FEMA comes through on their part. Long Island’s
residents should not be left shouldering all of the cost.”

The Senators’ letter to the Governor is below:

The Honorable David A. Paterson
Governor of New York
State Capitol
Albany, N.Y. 12224

Dear Governor Paterson,

are writing to request your immediate attention to the storm damage that has
occurred on Long Island recently and ask that you request a federal disaster
declaration from FEMA. This declaration has the potential to open up federal
dollars, which will aid the local communities in rebuilding the shoreline.

effects of Tropical Storm Ida can be seen from Fire Island to Montauk Point to
Gilgo Beach. On Long Island alone, the damage has been assessed at over $30
million. These areas consist of public properties owned by Suffolk County,
townships and villages, mostly along the south shore.

you know, Long Island’s beaches are more than scenery; they protect homes and
communities from dangerous storm surges. After all, Fire Island is Long
Island’s only natural barrier. In addition, these beaches are destinations for
millions of visitors a year and generate millions of dollars in local economic
activity. As a result of this storm, beaches have been left decimated and are
extremely vulnerable to further erosion that may occur this winter should
another storm hit. In some locations, the dunes have been left fully exposed –
leaving no protection.

this year, the communities on Fire Island paid over $35 million to replenish
their beaches in anticipation of considerable erosion this coming winter. Our
offices have heard that more than half of this newly-deposited sand is now
gone, only months after the project was completed. In the Town of Babylon,
Gilgo Beach was hit particularly hard. The high tide line is now only 150 feet
from Ocean Parkway. If the erosion there isn’t reversed, the next storm could
destroy the road and even the beach, causing the waters to wash over into the
Great South Bay. 

Federal and local officials will meet to continue the damage assessment tour
the shoreline damage in Suffolk County. We are confident that the results of
the assessment will merit a request for federal funds and stand ready to urge
FEMA to support an equivalent declaration so these funds can be accessed.

we urge you to issue a disaster declaration so that these communities will not
be left alone to shoulder these costs.


E. Schumer
States Senator      

E. Gillibrand
United States Senator