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Stefanik, Cuomo furious over FEMA funds denial

January 8, 2020
By AARON CERBONE - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

On Friday, Jan. 3, the Federal Emergency Management Agency decided to deny a request for individual assistance to residents of Essex, Hamilton, Clinton, Fulton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Saratoga, and Warren counties who were affected by Halloween flooding last year.

While FEMA provided assistance to governments for damages to municipal infrastructure, it did not approve individual assistance, which could be used to reimburse displaced residents for their temporary lodging or for repairs not covered by insurance.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik both said they were disappointed with the decision. Cuomo said the state is going to appeal the denial.

"I am extremely disappointed by FEMA's decision to deny individual assistance to flood victims after approving federal public assistance that my office worked to deliver," Stefanik wrote in a statement.

"It is unacceptable that the federal government has denied our request for individual assistance for the residents affected by the Halloween 2019 storm and I'm demanding the Federal Emergency Management Agency provide a detailed explanation on the denial," Cuomo wrote in a statement.

The storms brought at least 3 inches of rain and winds up to 70 mph, knocking down countless trees and power lines, and leaving many properties uninhabitable. Catholic priest Rev. Tom Connery died after being swept away in floodwaters in Herkimer County, where his car got stuck.

According to Cuomo's press release, "heavy rainfall, flash flooding and strong winds damaged nearly 300 homes, 18 of which were destroyed." The statement also said the storm did more than $33 million in damage to public infrastructure and facilities.

"I have spoken with numerous families in our district who have lost their homes and their businesses," Stefanik wrote. "The impact of the Halloween storms has been devastating to our region and the livelihood of many families."

"FEMA needs to step up, do the right thing and help these people restore and rebuild their lives and homes," Cuomo wrote. "The agency's sole mission is to help communities dealing with disasters and a one-sentence denial is woefully inadequate and does nothing to offer hope for these families."

"My office will immediately work to ensure we address this devastating news directly with FEMA and advocate for families of New York's 21st District to get the relief and support they deserve," Stefanik wrote.



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