Congressman Appeals to Governor to Keep Federal Storm Aid in WNY
In a letter to New York State Governor George Pataki, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) is asking the State to dedicate storm aid received by the Federal Emergency Management Agency earmarked for “Hazard Mitigation” to projects in the four county declared disaster area. Furthermore, the Congressman is requesting that $5 million of those federal funds be earmarked for flood prevention in the City of Lackawanna’s Smokes Creek area.
“It only makes sense that federal emergency money delivered to the state after Western New York’s October storm be kept in this region to make improvements that prevent, as best we can, future damage to our community,” said Congressman Higgins. “We are not asking for a handout, simply standing up for what is rightfully ours.”
One component of the federal aid made available as a result of President Bush’s October 24th major disaster declaration is for a program called “Hazard Mitigation.” These funds must be used for “assistance to state and local governments for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.”
A dollar amount dedicated for “Hazard Mitigation” has not yet been determined, but the figure is typically between 7.5% at 15% of the total FEMA grant. Once that money is allocated, the State determines if the funds will be used in the disaster area or in other portions of the state as well as what specific projects the money will be used for.
During the October storm the City of Lackawanna was hard hit when Smokes Creek backed up resulting in extensive flooding in the surrounding community. Dredging the creek to prevent future floods is estimated to cost between $4 – 5 million.
“If Smokes Creek dredging goes forward we anticipate not only flood relief but also economic relief to some local residents who may no longer be subject to mandatory flood insurance requirements,” Congressman Higgins added.