Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he and state legislators are ready to provide about $10 million to hundreds of flood victims in the Mohawk Valley.
Cuomo made the announcement a day after the federal government denied individual assistance to victims of the severe flooding. The individual assistance program helps victims recover and rebuild. It is in addition to federal aid that goes to governments to rebuild roads and for other recovery projects.
Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono expressed disappointment with Monday’s decision. “While this is certainly a disappointment, as we feel the level of damage to private properties is sufficient to warrant federal assistance, at the same time we thank New York state for the support they have and continued to provide throughout this devastating event,” said Bono, R - Schuyler.
“I must also commend the efforts of the local Herkimer County response teams whose expertise and 24/7 attention has been essential. In addition, our partners at the state level have worked side by side with us since the beginning of the flooding,” Bono added.
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi said he was hopeful the Federal Emergency Management Agency would provide assistance to local flooding victims after it approved public assistance aid for flood-affected municipalities last week. “I’m very disappointed,” said Brindisi, D – Utica. “At a time when the federal government should be stepping up to the plate to help our area, it has struck out.”
State Sen. Joseph Griffo said he would encourage FEMA officials to rethink their decision because a lot has transpired since the agency first assessed the damage to the area after June’s major flooding.
“We have had subsequent events since that initial visit,” said Griffo, R – Rome. “I don’t know if that information would change anything, but I believe federal officials at least owe us a reassessment.”
While Brindisi and Griffo said they would like to see Cuomo appeal FEMA’s decision, they are also ready to get something done at the state level and are hoping for a special session of the legislature.
Cuomo said last week if the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not come through with aid for flood victims, he would call the state Legislature back into session to free up state money.
“As I have said from the day the floodwaters devastated towns and villages across upstate New York, if federal assistance is not provided, the state will step in to provide whatever is needed so New Yorkers can rebuild their lives and their homes. An effective government is one that serves the people and when disaster strikes is there to help. In this situation, people need help and you haven’t seen anything until you see New Yorkers come together. The state will step up to the plate to ensure those affected by these floods have the resources and assistance they need to get their lives back together,” he said.
Page 2 of 3 - Cuomo said Tuesday he hopes to speed up the process by acting administratively, rather than calling the legislature back, which could take two weeks and cost the state tens of thousands of dollars.
“If I can do it on my own, that’s the preference,” said Cuomo during an appearance on public radio’s “Capitol Pressroom.” “If I can’t we’ll bring the legislature back because we’re not going to leave these homeowners hanging.” He added he is yet to identify where the $10 million will come from.
State comptroller’s audits show executive agencies spend $100 million to $150 million each year in discretionary travel expenses including car rentals, meals, lodging and airline baggage fees. The current budget also provides millions in tax breaks to lure “The Tonight Show” back to New York as part of a $420 million in tax credits to film and television productions doing work in the state. In June, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said state revenues were $360 million more than projections so far.
“The state will figure out a way to do it,” Cuomo said during his appearance on “Capitol Pressroom.” “We’re not going to leave the homeowners hanging, period.”
Legislative leaders said they support action by Cuomo or by legislative approval, if necessary.
“We are willing to do whatever we can to help the people of the Mohawk Valley recover and rebuild after the destruction caused by these terrible floods,” said Scott Reif, Senate Republicans spokesman.
“Every member of our conference believes we must deliver aid to these hard-struck communities,” said state Senator David Valesky of the Independent Democratic Conference.
Cuomo promised details about the aid should be announced by Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson said FEMA’s decision was “unacceptable.” “Having just been in Fort Plain on Saturday, I cannot express more strongly how critical this aid money is to local residents. They need help rebuilding their homes, businesses and lives and FEMA’s decision is flat-out wrong,” he said.
Gibson called on Cuomo and the rest of the New York delegation to be as vocal about the individual assistance aid as they have been about past storms and express to President Barack Obama this is the “wrong decision.” “We will not accept this outcome as final,” he said.
Disaster areas were declared after flooding from June 28 to July 4 in Allegany, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Franklin, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Otsego and Warren counties.
Last week, FEMA approved public assistance funds for local governments.The public assistance moneys were approved for municipalities to perform emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.
Cuomo also said Tuesday he would fully support a Senate proposal to create a reserve fund from annual budgets to be used to help victims of natural disasters. “Between the frequency and level of devastation, we are not prepared for this and we need to be,” he said.
Page 3 of 3 - Boil water advisory in Mohawk
A boil water advisory remains in effect for the Village of Mohawk.
Public assistance approved for Herkimer Co.
Herkimer County has been approved for public assistance. The announcement was made Friday after President Barack Obama declared the flooding event a major disaster.
Other counties eligible for FEMA public assistance funding include Allegany, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Franklin, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Otsego and Warren.
Preliminary damage assessments by FEMA, state and local emergency management personnel working collaboratively in the affected counties showed the damage to public infrastructure had exceeded $32.7 million, well above the state’s $26.7 million per capita threshold.
Tdap vaccinations available in Herkimer
Any resident, responder or recovery worker in need of a free Tdap vaccination is welcome to attend a walk-in clinic Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Herkimer County Office and Courts Facility at 301 N. Washington St., Herkimer. For more information about the clinic call Herkimer County Public Health, which has administered more than 900 free Tdap vaccinations to date, at 867-1176.
Points of distribution in Mohawk, Van Hornesville
Points of distribution are available at the Mohawk Fire Department, 28 Columbia St., and at Owen D. Young Central School, 2316 state Route 80, Van Hornesville, and offer water and cleanup kits. The Mohawk site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the Van Hornesville site is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
American Red Cross, Salvation Army
For information on American Red Cross services contact 733-4666.
The Salvation Army has mobile vehicles operating in the county providing food, water and other human services. Residents may also visit the Salvation Army’s Herkimer office at 431 N. Prospect St. for coffee and drinks from 9 a.m. to noon and dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. until further notice. For information on Salvation Army services contact 866-1240.
Dumpsters available for town of Herkimer residents
The town of Herkimer has dumpsters available at the town highway garage on Gros Boulevard for residents to use to dispose of trash caused by the recent flooding. For information call 866-2690.
Contributing: Associated Press, More Content Now