Higgins and Massa Announce Presidential Disaster Declaration for WNY Areas Hit by Floods
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) and Congressman Eric Massa (NY-29) announced that President Obama and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) formally approved a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Western New York areas impacted by the severe floods that hit the area most significantly August 8 - 10, 2009.
"This action will provide desperately needed federal resources to communities completely devastated by this storm," said Congressman Higgins. "We are pleased this initial designation for public assistance has been awarded which will begin the process of getting aid flowing to these municipalities, but we will not be fully satisfied until Individual Assistance is also provided. I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of this natural disaster as I spoke with people who lost their homes and belongings and business owners that lost their livelihood. I will continue to push for direct assistance that helps people recover and rebuild."
"By working together, we were able to convince the President that the flood ravaged areas of Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Erie Counties qualified for federal emergency funds," said Congressman Eric Massa. "This is about helping our neighbors who have had their lives interrupted by significant flood damage. I want to thank Senator Schumer and Congressman Higgins for standing with me throughout this ordeal as we successfully worked to deliver these federal emergency funds."
On Tuesday, August 11th Congressman Higgins toured the impacted areas in Silver Creek with County Executive Greg Edwards. The next day, Wednesday, August 12th, Congressman Eric Massa toured Gowanda. On that same day, Congressman Higgins and Congressman Massa sent letters to the President requesting a Presidential Disaster Declaration that includes individual assistance in addition to municipal assistance. On Friday, August 14th the Governor declared that damages exceeded the threshold and requested a Presidential Declaration. On Saturday, August 15th Schumer, Higgins, Massa and other members of the federal delegation sent a joint letter requesting a federal disaster declaration. On Monday, August 17th FEMA confirmed they received the request for a declaration. On August 23rd Congressmen Higgins & Massa and Senator Schumer stressed the need for swift approval of the Presidential Declaration.
Under FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant program local governments receive aid to support and expedite response and recovery. Public assistance has been approved in all categories including: debris removal, emergency protective measures, roads & bridges, water control facilities, public buildings, public utilities and parks and recreation sites.
The State in conjunction with FEMA will hold an applicant briefing for local municipalities seeking Public Assistance. A request for Public Assistance must be filed with the state within 30 days after the designation. Federal, state and local agencies will develop a plan of action in a subsequent kick-off meeting.
In preliminary damage assessments the State estimated total expenditures for infrastructure repair and debris removal will exceed $70 million. In Chautauqua County the preliminary public property damages estimates are $17 million, with estimates in Erie County around $6.8 million. Cattaraugus County's estimated damage exceeds $36.7 million. In the Village of Gowanda alone, the local impact exceeds $6,100 per capita.
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