State and county officials have called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reconsider its denial of aid to individuals and small businesses to help them recover from the Halloween night floods in the Mohawk Valley.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. said FEMA is wrongly considering the severity of damage on a statewide basis instead of taking into account how severe it is locally. The same thing happened after floods in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017 he said.
Assemblyman Robert Smullen (R,C,Ref-Meco) is also urging FEMA to reverse its decision in his district.
“This is an inexplicable setback for the recovery efforts in our community after this terrible flooding,” Smullen said. “I am asking that FEMA authorizes assistance directly to homeowners so that we can expedite the recovery process. This is not the time to put more red-tape in front of our residents as they seek to rebuild their lives. In the meantime, I encourage Governor Cuomo to appeal this decision and I will work with our Congressional representatives to support that effort.”
Governor Cuomo said, “It is unacceptable that the federal government has denied our request for individual assistance for the residents affected by the Halloween 2019 storm and I’m demanding the Federal Emergency Management Agency provide a detailed explanation on the denial.
“Across Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer, and Oneida counties, heavy rainfall, flash flooding, and strong winds damaged nearly 300 homes, 18 of which were destroyed. The lives of hundreds of families were altered and the destruction was substantial – more than $33 million in damages to public infrastructure and facilities alone.
“FEMA needs to step up, do the right thing and help these people restore and rebuild their lives and homes. The agency’s sole mission is to help communities dealing with disasters and a one-sentence denial is woefully inadequate and does nothing to offer hope for these families. We will be appealing this denial.”
The Mohawk Valley Nine, a bipartisan coalition of state legislators representing Herkimer, Madison, and Oneida counties, will host a roundtable with area elected officials and state agency representatives to discuss the October 2019 flooding event.
The roundtable will take place at the State Office Building at 207 Genesee Street in Utica on Tuesday, January 7, first-floor conference room A, from 10 am until 11:30 am.
This meeting will be an opportunity for local elected officials and emergency personnel to inform state legislators of the response by state agencies and others during the flood event. The roundtable will assist the Mohawk Valley Nine in considering any legislation, funding, or policy changes that may be necessary to support local officials respond to natural disasters.
The Mohawk Valley Nine is comprised of delegation co-chairs Senator James L. Seward (R/C/I/Ref – Oneonta) and Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D/I-Utica), Senator Joseph A. Griffo (R/C/I – Rome), Senator Rachel May (D – Syracuse), Senator Jim Tedisco (R/C/I/Ref – Glenville), Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R/C/I – Black River), Assemblyman Brian Miller (R/I – New Hartford), Assemblyman John Salka (R/C/Ref-Brookfield), Assemblyman Robert Smullen (R/C/Ref-Meco).
In December, FEMA approved aid to local governments and non-profit organizations, and many officials expected a declaration that aid to individuals would be coming soon.
According to FEMA, the Public Assistance program, reimbursement can be received for activities such as debris removal, emergency protective measures and the repairing and rebuilding of publicly-owned infrastructure, including roads, public schools, bridges, parks, hospitals, police stations, firehouses, water, and wastewater treatment facilities and other public facilities.
The federal disaster declaration covered Chautauqua, Chenango, Cortland, Erie, Essex, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Oswego, Otsego, Saratoga, Tioga and Warren counties.