Governor Kathy Hochul Friday requested a Major Disaster Declaration from President Biden to support the ongoing recovery of communities impacted by devastating flooding stemming from this week’s heavy rainstorms, which spanned across much of Upstate New York. If granted, this declaration would release critical federal financial assistance that will support recovery and reconstruction efforts in Albany, Clinton, Dutchess, Essex, Hamilton, Ontario, Orange, Oswego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, and Westchester counties, with the opportunity for additional counties to be added in the coming weeks as the damage assessment process continues. Additionally, Governor Hochul is requesting federal support for homeowners in Ontario and Orange Counties, as well as an expedited damage assessment process. New York will also be engaging with the U.S. Small Business Administration to pursue low-interest recovery loans for impacted private businesses in the coming weeks.
“My administration is no stranger to extreme weather events and the weather of this past week has shown that not only do we need federal assistance to help recover from these storms, but government leaders at all levels need to prioritize making our infrastructure more resilient,” Governor Hochul said. “I have spoken with The White House, our Senators, and FEMA leadership about the need for a swift approval of this disaster declaration, so we can help New Yorkers recover quickly and efficiently.”
A Major Disaster Declaration secures financial assistance from the federal government, primarily through FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, to provide funding to local governments, tribes and eligible non-profits for debris removal, protective measures, and repairs to buildings and infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water and wastewater treatment facilities, critical infrastructure sites, schools, parks and other facilities.
Following a disaster, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ (DHSES) Disaster Recovery Unit works directly with counterparts at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and impacted local governments to assess damages caused by, and costs related to, the disaster. Once these assessments are complete, FEMA validates whether the state and impacted counties have reached the required federal damage thresholds for a Major Disaster Declaration.
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “New York was devastated with heavy rains and destructive flooding this week and we need to access federal funding to support the long term recovery of impacted communities. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Hochul, our teams are working hand in glove with our local and federal partners to support recovery efforts as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
From July 9-10, more than eight inches of rain was reported in parts of the Mid-Hudson Region and more than five inches of rain in Ontario County, in the Finger Lakes Region. From July 10-11, parts of the North Country saw several inches of rain in a short period of time, which caused devastating flooding, closing roadways and damaging infrastructure across impacted regions.
In advance of the storm, Governor Hochul directed State agencies to prepare emergency response assets and stay in constant communication with local governments to monitor weather impacts and respond to requests for assistance. As the storms moved across the state, the Governor continued to deploy disaster resources to impacted areas, including additional Department of Transportation staff, who worked to get State highways and bridges open as quickly as possible.
Additionally, Governor Hochul deployed staff from the State Department of Financial Services (DFS) to provide insurance assistance to residents affected by the flooding in Rockland and Orange Counties. Individuals can also call the DFS Disaster Hotline at (800) 339-1759.