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Higgins & Massa Continue Fight for Individual Assistance for Flood Victims

Sep 3, 2009
Press Release

Today, Congressmembers Brian Higgins (NY-27) and Eric Massa (NY-29) renewed their push for Individual Assistance for Western New York residents and businesses impacted by the severe floods that hit the area in August.  Public Assistance, which will provide aid to municipalities, was made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a result of Tuesdays Presidential Disaster Declaration.

In the letter to President Obama the Congressmen stress the need for relief saying, “We can attest to the wide-spread destruction and hardship caused by this disaster, having seen the destruction of homes, businesses, and municipal facilities.  During our respective trips to these areas we have spoken to many families who have lost their homes and belongings and business owners that have lost their livelihood.  Many don’t have the money to make the necessary repairs and are desperate for help….Today we write to ask again that Individual Assistance is included for these counties so individuals, households and businesses in this area can quickly recover from this disaster.”

Timeline of steps taken since the storm:  
 

  • August 8-10 Western New York hit by severe storms causing flooding and devastation
  • 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.  
  • August 14th the Governor declared that damages exceeded the threshold and requested a Presidential Declaration.  
  • August 17th FEMA confirmed they received the request for a declaration.
  • September 1 President Obama issues a federal disaster declaration


September 3, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We write today to thank you for declaring a major disaster declaration for the flood ravaged areas of Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Erie Counties for last month’s severe storms and flooding and to urge for the expeditious approval of FEMA’s Individual Assistance for these counties.

 This disaster declaration provides much-needed federal assistance for the state and local governments and certain non-profit organizations in communities completely devastated by the severe floods that hit the area August 8-10, 2009.  Gowanda, Silver Creek, Boston, Brant, Jamestown, Sunset Bay, Hanford Bay, the Cattaraugus Reservation of the Seneca Nation of Indians, and Colden are among those that will receive additional aid to repair and replace flood-damaged roads, bridges and other public property in these areas.

 While we appreciate your actions thus far, we also urge the implementation of FEMA’s Individual Assistance program to aid homeowners, renters and small businesses who are also in need of direct assistance to recover and rebuild.  We can attest to the wide-spread destruction and hardship caused by this disaster, having seen the destruction of homes, businesses, and municipal facilities.  During our respective trips to these areas we have spoken to many families who have lost their homes and belongings and business owners that have lost their livelihood.  Many don’t have the money to make the necessary repairs and are desperate for help.

 We have, separately, and together with other members of New York’s Congressional delegation, written to support Governor Paterson’s request to authorize individual assistance for these Western New York communities.  Today we write to ask again that Individual Assistance is included for these counties so individuals, households and businesses in our region can quickly recover from this disaster.

 Thank you very much for your leadership and attention to this issue.


Sincerely,

Brian Higgins                                                     Eric Massa
United States Representative                              United States Representative