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Congress members support Cuomo’s FEMA flood appeal

October 25, 2011
By CHRIS MORRIS - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Gov. Andrew Cuomo submitted a formal letter last week appealing the denial of federal aid for flooding last May.

In the letter, dated Oct. 19, Cuomo explained the necessity of securing federal help for more than $23 million in damage caused by spring flooding between May 9 and 30. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand signed the letter along with U.S. Representatives Chris Gibson, Brian Higgins, Maurice Hinchey, Kathy Hochul, Bill Owens, Tom Reed and Louise Slaughter. The counties affected include Clinton, Essex and Warren.

Communities like Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, affected by flooding in late April and early May, were able to tap federal aid coffers.

Gibson, R-Kinderhook, said the letter was also forwarded to Craig Fugate, administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Gibson said much attention has been paid to losses suffered following Tropical Storm Irene but that many communities in the North Country are still recovering from spring flooding.

"In my district, the small town of Thurman suffered over $13 million in damages alone," Gibson said. "It is critical that federal aid is secured to help towns ... rebuild the destruction done to roads and bridges. I am strongly supportive of the governor's appeal."

FEMA announced in July that Essex, Clinton and Warren counties were not eligible for federal assistance connected with flooding that occurred between May 9 and 30, stating that "damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments.

Owens said, however, that federal law requires "FEMA to take localized impact and recent multiple disasters into account when evaluating a state's request for a major disaster declaration."

Prior to May storms, New York was granted four major disaster declarations, Owens said.

"Local damages in some affected counties exceed per capita thresholds by a factor of almost 60," he said.



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