Federal Assistance is Needed to Aid Local Communities Overwhelmed by Costs of Tree Stump Removal From 2006 Storm
Washington, D.C. – Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, along with Senator Charles Schumer, and Representatives Louise Slaughter, Thomas Reynolds, and Brian Higgins, urged Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator R. David Paulison, to accept the appeal by the City of Buffalo for reimbursement for the removal of tree stumps left behind from the October 12-13, 2006 snowstorm. In a letter, the lawmakers expressed their concerns that the thousands of tree stumps that still remain pose a clear hazard to the health, safety and property to the community. However, cities like Buffalo have been overwhelmed by the costs involved with full removal, and federal aid is necessary as they continue on the road to recovery.
“Instead of marking the anniversary of last year’s snow storm by celebrating a successful recovery in the wake of the destruction, the citizens of Buffalo are still looking at thousands of tree stumps and we are appealing yet again to FEMA for federal aid,” said Senator Clinton. “Cities like Buffalo took action following the snowstorm to protect their residents and property by removing hazardous tree limbs and clearing debris, and while there is still much work to be done, it should not be left to the city to shoulder the incredible financial burden. This is why I am urging FEMA to accept the appeal submitted by the City of Buffalo for reimbursement of removal of the tree stumps left behind by last years severe snow storm.”
“FEMA’s self-proclaimed mission is to assist with response and recovery, yet in Buffalo’s case, one year after last October’s devastating snowstorm, this federal agency continues to shrug off accountability, sticking Buffalo residents with the bill to remove these unsightly tree stumps,” said Senator Schumer. “FEMA should overturn their foolhardy decision and give Buffalo the funding it needs to finish the job. Plain and simple, FEMA cannot wipe its hands and walk away from Buffalo and it’s residents.”
“Although FEMA provided relief for the City of Buffalo immediately following the storm, there is still much to be done to fully recover nearly a year after the storm,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter. “These tree stumps littered throughout the city are a problem, and FEMA needs to provide the proper assistance for their removal.”
“Over a year ago, Western New York experienced one of the worst storms in our history," said Rep. Tom Reynolds (Clarence). "The city of good neighbors worked together to over come the many challenges we faced. We are still fighting together for what Western New York deserves. While FEMA's response was helpful, there are still a number of issues unresolved and we need answers and solutions not more bureaucratic talk.”
“Stump removal is a significant expense directly related to October Storm and should be reimbursed by FEMA,” said Congressman Higgins. ”While I understand the need for policies that protect against abuses and fraud, I urge FEMA to be flexible in considering the unique circumstances and valid needs resulting from this natural disaster in Buffalo.”
The snow storm that hit Western New York last October destroyed entire neighborhoods of trees, leaving local communities to clean up debris caused when the trees collapsed under the weight of the snow. While FEMA has been extremely helpful to the City of Buffalo and other cities impacted by the storm, their current stump removal policy does not meet the needs of the region in its effort to fully recover. As a result of the removal of thousands of storm damaged trees throughout Western New York, thousands of tree stumps remain in public rights of way, creating an immediate threat to public health and the safety of the community. The costs for the full removal of these stumps have overwhelmed state and local governments, which is why it is critical that FEMA accept the appeal by the City of Buffalo to provide the necessary federal assistance to the City for the removal of hazardous stumps.