Buffalo, NYŚ Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27), Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28) sent a letter to President Bush urging for his quick approval in declaring Western New York a major disaster area due to the damaging and unprecedented snows that have fallen in the past eighteen hours in the Buffalo area.
"Buffalo and the surrounding area need decisive, immediate action from President Bush to get the federal funding necessary to assist in our recovery from this unexpected and dangerous storm," said Higgins. "Western New Yorkers are facing the challenges today of digging out, no electricity, and major damage to our houses and other property because of the thousands of trees that have fallen under the weight and pressure from the heavy snow. Unfortunately, we know that this recovery will take time and resources from the federal government will be crucial in helping us repair, rebuild and get back to normal."
Letter attached below.
Dear Mr. President:
We write in anticipation of a request from Governor Pataki seeking a Major Disaster Area Declaration for Western New York and we urge your quick approval. A major disaster declaration would make the area eligible for federal funding to mitigate the unexpected and un-seasonal snow storm that has dropped over 19 inches of snow on Buffalo and the surrounding area. Because this snow is so early in the season, the snowfall's pressure on trees with leaves still on the branches is causing many to fall resulting in widespread damage to power lines and other infrastructure.
The snow has caused excessive damage to infrastructure and private property, cut off power to over 300,000 homes and businesses, closed roadways including 105 miles of the New York State Thruway, and has left area hospitals short on medical staff and patients unable to get care. To recover, residents will need disaster grants and low interest loans to repair their homes and heating systems for the long winter ahead. We also presume that local governments, already stretched by structural financial shortfalls, will need further assistance to restore infrastructure and to assist their citizens.
We urge you to approve the declaration request as soon as possible and we look forward to working with you to help the citizens of Western New York recover from this storm.