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The Telegram
  • Cuomo to press White House for flood damage funding

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo returned to the Mohawk Valley Sunday afternoon to tell local lawmakers he will continue to push the White House to declare a federal disaster area in the communities affected by devastating flash floods in late June.

    “There is no reason why this does not quality for federal disaster assistance,” Cuomo said during a press conference at Herkimer County Community College.

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  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo returned to the Mohawk Valley Sunday afternoon to tell local lawmakers he will continue to push the White House to declare a federal disaster area in the communities affected by devastating flash floods in late June.
    “There is no reason why this does not quality for federal disaster assistance,” Cuomo said during a press conference at Herkimer County Community College.
    The governor issued a state disaster declaration on June 28, naming 15 counties pummeled by flooding, including Herkimer and Montgomery counties, and asked the White House to issue a federal disaster declaration last week. The declaration, he said, would make homeowners and local governments eligible for federal financial aid.
    Because local governments need to start funding bigger and more costly repairs for their citizens, Cuomo said he set the end of this week as the deadline to hear back from the White House on the federal disaster declaration. If the funds are granted, he said the money would funnel through the counties from the state and would fund two categories worth of damage — reimbursement for individuals and public properties.
    If the federal disaster declaration is not issued, Cuomo said he is prepared to call a special session of the state Legislature to secure moneys to help the cash-strapped communities.
    “One way or another, we’re going to be there and be a backstop,” said Cuomo. “We’d have to find the money, but we have a bigger budget than a town, city or county.”
    He estimated between $60 and $80 million may be needed to cover the damage.
    “We are in the business of helping people, and in an emergency situation like this it is so clear that people need help. They need help rebuilding their homes. They need help putting their lives back together. The local governments need help to financially stabilize themselves. This state government is going to be there for the people who have just gone through this,” said Cuomo, adding before Sunday he had not directly spoken to someone from the White House specifically about the flooding that hit the Mohawk Valley.
    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday it is reviewing Cuomo’s request and is working with the state on preliminary damage assessments.
    During his visit the governor also met with residents and Red Cross volunteers at a bulk distribution site in the parking lot of the Herkimer Kmart and toured areas damaged by the flooding. He said a lot of progress had been made since his initial tour last week.
    “We have done what we needed to do in terms of emergency stabilization and emergency repairs,” he said. “There is more to do, but you can feel that we’ve made good progress.”
    Cuomo said the next step in the recovery process includes helping 150 homeowners with significant damage and helping local governments with infrastructure and roadwork.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’ve also highlighted some longer term issues. Creek management and stream management are going to a longer-term issue. You can’t wait before you have this kind of damage and destruction before you really address the problem and that is going to have to be done on an ongoing basis. We’re going to work on that,” he said.
    The governor and local officials have been optimistic about the fact that several local agencies and individuals have rallied to combat the damage done to their hometowns.
    “This is the worst disaster we’ve had, but this is the best prepared and best organized recovery we’ve had,” said German Flatts Town Supervisor Frank Spatto.
    Spatto thanked Cuomo for deploying 250 members of the National Guard to the Mohawk Valley last week. “I’ve spent been better than 30 years trying to get some of these projects done and the governor and the National Guard got them done in about a week. There is still a lot of work to do, but with the governor’s guidance and help I think we are going to come out of this pretty good,” he said.
    Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono, R – Schuyler, said the county has sustained “tens of millions” of dollars worth of damage, but added he had not seen the community come together before they way it has in the past weeks.
    “The locals, the DPWs, the fire and police departments – you’re just overwhelmed with generosity,” he said. “As every day of this goes by it gets better. It gets better because of good people. Good people here locally and good people at the state level.”
    “The community has done what it needed to do. People came together. People found their better selves and reached out and helped one another. I want to make sure government does what government is supposed to do and that’s help people,” said Cuomo.
    Contributing: More Content Now
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