FEMA funding on the line: Residents hit by flood urged to report damage ASAP
Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand urged FEMA to approve any New York state request for a major disaster declaration following the severe flooding inflicted by Tropical Storm Fred.
As southern Steuben County continues to recover from its worst flood in decades, elected officials are urging residents to document every dollar of damage to help the county qualify for financial reimbursements from FEMA.
The statewide toll inflicted by Tropical Storm Fred will need to reach $30 million for the county to be eligible for FEMA reimbursements. Earlier this week, Steuben County officials said the county may approach that figure on its own before damage from other parts of the state is factored into the tally. The largest figure may be generated by Jasper-Troupsburg High School, which was inundated with nearly 4 feet of water and mud, causing severe damage.
Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) encouraged all impacted residents to report their damages.
“Our hearts go out to the residents of our community that have had their lives so overwhelmingly affected by this disastrous flooding, we want you to know that we are with you, and will do anything in our power to help," said Reed. "As we enter this next phase, we are asking you to please report your damages to local emergency offices to help your neighbors in our community collectively surpass the FEMA requirements."
Reed said his office has been assisting "devastated local residents by connecting the affected people with the resources to begin the rebuilding process," and working with state and local officials to coordinate recovery efforts.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand this week urged FEMA to approve any New York state request for a major disaster declaration following the severe flooding inflicted by Fred.
A disaster declaration would enable grant assistance for state and local governments, plus some nonprofit organizations, to reimburse the costs of emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities. Such a declaration would be critical for communities like Woodhull and Jasper, which are working to send high school students to the Greenwood school this fall.
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The funding is available on a cost-sharing basis; FEMA generally covers 75% of the eligible costs for permanent and emergency work, noted the senators.
“The damage is major and will likely total tens of millions of dollars in costs suffered, including the severely damaged Jasper-Troupsburg school,” said Schumer. “FEMA needs to mobilize its Disaster Assessment Teams and stand ready to swiftly approve any forthcoming requests from the state for assistance to help these communities recover.”
The state must first request a Preliminary Damage Assessment. During this process, FEMA representatives would join state and local officials to survey the damage and determine whether the cost of the disaster meets the criteria for a federal disaster declaration.
After much of the Southern Tier saw record-breaking rainfall totals in the month of July, Tropical Storm Fred added to what is shaping up to be one of the wettest summers on record. New York received more than 7 inches of rain in three days, with 24-hour totals exceeding 3 inches in many locations and one area receiving more than 5 inches, according to Schumer’s office.
Local creeks reached historic levels, with Tuscarora Creek cresting above 14 feet. Across the state, communities in Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida and Lewis counties also saw heavy rains, flooding and damage.