Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand urged FEMA to approve New York’s anticipated request to declare a federal state of emergency for Westchester and Rockland counties.
The state is expected to request the federal designation, which would allow for federal reimbursement of more than 75 percent of costs. The senators announced today that FEMA is paying for initial clean-up costs in New York City and Long Island — which already received the disaster declaration.
“The Hudson Valley has been hammered with severe flooding and dangerous debris in the wake of Sandy, and Westchester and Rockland Counties have borne the brunt of the damage,” Schumer said in a statement. “They deserve the same federal emergency resources that neighboring communities on Long Island and in New York City are getting, so that they can rebuild after this lethal storm.”
Gillibrand added, “Hurricane Sandy left a trail of destruction in its wake that sadly didn’t spare the Hudson Valley. “We can’t let anything stand in the way of our effort to begin to clean up and rebuild.”
Three people were killed in Westchester because of the storm, including two kids aged 11 and 13 in North Salem.
Westchester had about 200,000 people without power, and as many as 100,000 in Rockland.
Here’s the senators’ letter:
Dear Administrator Fugate,
We are writing in strong support of New York State’s request to add the Counties of Rockland and Westchester to Major Disaster Declaration FEMA-4085-DR. Specifically, we support the state’s request to add Individual Assistance and Public Assistance (Categories A through G), along with the state’s request to add Public Assistance Categories C through G for the already declared counties of Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Richmond, and Suffolk. This request is necessary to meet the urgent needs of the residents of these counties, which experienced significant amounts of damage due to Hurricane Sandy. 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 Rockland and Westchester Counties will exceed the county disaster thresholds. Both counties have experienced significant amounts of flooding, downed trees and power lines, damage to roadways and other infrastructure. The sound shore communities in Westchester and communities along the Hudson River in Rockland and Westchester were hit the hardest with extensive flooding of homes, businesses, and municipal facilities. Throughout both counties, hundreds of roads had to be closed due to downed trees and power lines, many schools are closed for a full week. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of residents have been without power for 3 days, with outages expected to continue up to another week in many cases. 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. Furthermore, given the extent of damage to the public infrastructure of New York City and Long Island, we urge you to approve Public Assistance Categories C-G as expeditiously as possible.
We are grateful for the prompt attention that you and the entire federal government have given to quickly responding to this disaster, and for your commitment to cutting bureaucratic red-tape so that assistance can be provided as quickly and efficiently as possible. In that spirit, we strongly urge you to approve this request.