State submits ‘disaster declaration’ application to FEMA, POTUS approval pending

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UTICA–Five days before deadline, New York State submitted an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), requesting President Donald Trump issue a ‘disaster declaration’ after historic Halloween floods.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the measure, Tuesday.

“I have determined that this incident is of such severity that the response and recovery is beyond the state’s and local governments’ capability, and federal assistance is necessary,” Cuomo said in the application.

The state needed to reach a $29.6 million damage threshold in order to qualify for a federal disaster declaration.

New York’s application says damages across the Empire State reached $33.1 million.

Regarding the public assistance funds available from FEMA, the agency’s coordinating officer from Region II, Chris Hartnett, said “we validated the numbers that they (New York) asked us to validate. They have surpassed their indicator. So, yes we will recommend a federal declaration.”

The 21-page application indicates that Herkimer and Oneida counties suffered the most hurt.

Herkimer County surpassed $8.8 million in damage, and Oneida County nearly touched $6.5 million in damage–based on preliminary assessments noted in the application.

Eyewitness News spoke with the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to learn about the process ahead.

“From the date the application is submitted (Nov. 26), we continue to do damage assessments out in the community. We can keep adding to the totals of the request document itself, up until 30 days after the actual declaration when the president makes his decision,” said NYSDHSES Communications Director Colin Brennan.

Brennan said, “once the president actually makes the decision, and if he grants one (a disaster declaration), our staff goes back into the communities with our county and local partners to develop projects that will remedy the damage that was incurred.”

Following this, NYSDHSES says those project plans go to FEMA for eligibility review.

“After that whole process starts, work will get underway and then we work with FEMA to make sure the counties or the locals get proper reimbursements, which are 75 percent of the total project cost,” Brennan said.

FEMA’s Hartnett says the application has reached White House.

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