U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Sean Patrick Maloney today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to stand ready to quickly approve any request from New York State for a major disaster declaration following the fatal tornados, macro-burst, severe rain and flooding that battered the Hudson Valley on May 15. Tragically, these storms were responsible for multiple deaths, including that of 11 year old child who was helping her mother get groceries out of the car in Newburgh, NY. During these storms and in their aftermath, normal activity came to a standstill, with over 100,000 residents without power, business and government offices shuttered, and local crews working around the clock to clear roadways and repair critical infrastructure. Schumer, Gillibrand and Maloney requested that FEMA stand ready to approve any forthcoming requests from the state for a disaster declaration for Hudson Valley counties that were impacted by the storms. As communities across the Hudson Valley continue their recovery from this unexpected and unprecedented storm, the federal officials urged FEMA to be prepared to participate in a Preliminary Damage Assessment with state and local officials, should the state request it.
“Communities across the Hudson Valley were ravaged by the tornados and severe storms, and it is absolutely crucial that we get them the resources they need to recover,” said Senator Schumer. “FEMA needs to stand ready to swiftly approve any forthcoming requests from the state for assistance to help these communities recover and rebuild.”
“When a major storm strikes, FEMA has an obligation to step in and make sure our communities have the resources they need to recover,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The storms and flooding that recently hit the Hudson Valley caused substantial damage, and I urge FEMA to quickly approve any federal funding requests that come in to help the region rebuild.”
“New Yorkers struggled while D.C. was trying to get its act together during Irene and Sandy – that can’t happen again,” said U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18). “I’m proud to stand with our Senators to put FEMA on notice – if New York calls for aid, the Federal Government should be ready to provide it immediately.”
If a disaster declaration is declared, grant assistance would be made available to state and local governments, as well as certain non-profit organizations, to reimburse costs incurred for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities. This funding is available on a cost-sharing basis; FEMA generally covers 75 percent of the eligible costs for permanent and emergency work. After any severe storm, the first step in the declaration process is for the state to request a Preliminary Damage Assessment, during which FEMA representatives join state, local, and other officials to survey damage across storm-impacted counties to help determine whether the cost of the disaster meets the criteria for a federal disaster declaration. Schumer and Gillibrand urged FEMA Administrator Brock Long to be prepared to support any requests for aid from New York State.
A copy of Schumer, Gillibrand and Maloney’s letter appears below:
Dear Administrator Long:
We write in strong support of communities in the Hudson Valley region of New York affected by recent severe weather. We urge the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to stand ready to work with affected counties and New York State, if requested, to determine whether damage meets the statutory threshold for FEMA disaster assistance, and if it does, to make assistance available as expeditiously as possible.
On May 15, New York was hit the fatal severe storms and tornados throughout the Hudson Valley. According to the National Weather Service, at least three tornados touches down in the Hudson Valley, along with brutal winds over one hundred and ten miles per hour. Hurricane-force gusts grounded flights up and down the Northeast corridor and knocked down countless trees and power lines throughout the Hudson Valley region. In the afternoon of Tuesday, May 15, more than 100,000 Hudson Valley residents had lost power. Tragically, these storms were responsible for multiple deaths, including that of 11 year old child who was helping her mother get groceries out of the car in Newburgh, NY. During these storms and in their aftermath, normal daily activity came to a standstill, with dozens of school districts closed for days, business and government offices shuttered, and local crews working around the clock to clear roadways and repair critical infrastructure. As communities across the Hudson Valley continue their recovery from this unexpected and unprecedented storm, we urge FEMA to stand ready to participate in a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) with state and local officials, should the state request it.
We are grateful for the prompt attention that the federal government has historically given in responding to disasters impacting New York State. In that spirit, we strongly urge you to approve any forthcoming requests for FEMA assistance from New York State as affected communities begin their recovery from these severe storms.
Charles E. Schumer
Sean Patrick Maloney