FEMA denies individual assistance to victims of Halloween floods

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has denied individual assistance to residents affected by the Halloween floods, according to a letter sent to the governor.

Posted: Jan 2, 2020 4:55 PM
Updated: Jan 2, 2020 11:56 PM

WKTV -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has denied individual assistance to residents affected by the Halloween floods, according to a letter sent to the governor.

The letter states, “The impact to the individuals and households from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to warrant the designation of individual assistance.”

The individual assistance would have provided funds to repair damages to, or buy out, residential homes and small businesses. This will be a crushing blow to homeowners who were hoping for federal buyouts of their homes. 

NEWSChannel 2 spoke with the Mayor of the Village of Whitesboro, Bob Friedlander. "I'm very upset. I still have dozens of residents who cannot go in their homes. They're not liveable and they were hoping for the federal government to swoop in and help them. We need help from the state of federal government. This isn't over."

On Dec. 20, FEMA approved public assistance for 18 counties for debris removal and the restoration of infrastructure, like roads and bridges. The counties had to meet a threshold of $29.6 million to qualify for the federal funding.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. released a statement following the FEMA announcement.

"I am angry and disappointed in FEMA’s decision to deny individual assistance and I request Governor Cuomo immediately appeal its decision. Time and time again, I have asked FEMA to reconsider its draconian thresholds and criteria to fund individual assistance to our residents who are suffering through no fault of their own and those requests are continuously ignored. Every time we have had weather-related emergencies I have shown Oneida County is ready and willing to assist our people. We have allocated tens of millions of dollars in individual assistance, municipal clean-up and long-term mitigation efforts. We have marshaled our government personnel and resources to assist during emergencies. We expect the federal government and the state to do the same when it comes to getting monetary assistance into the hands of residents who are suffering."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo can appeal the decision on individual assistance within the next 30 days.

Cuomo's spokesperson, Jason Conwall, said in a statement, "The governor is currently evaluating all options, including an appeal, with regard to FEMA’s unfortunate decision to deny the state's request for individual aid following the severe weather and flooding that hit central and northern parts of New York this past Halloween."

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