Cuomo: State will appeal FEMA denial of individual aid to flood victims

State and local officials gathered Friday to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to appeal a recent decision by FEMA to deny individual aid to homeowners affected by the Halloween floods.

Posted: Jan 3, 2020 12:52 PM
Updated: Jan 3, 2020 5:55 PM

UTICA, N.Y. (UPDATE) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he will be appealing FEMA's denial of individual assistance to flood victims after local officials gathered Friday, urging him to respond to the federal decision.

In a letter to the governor, FEMA denied individual assistance to local home and business owners who were affected by the Halloween floods, stating “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.”

Cuomo released a statement Friday, saying: 

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.

Across Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer and Oneida counties, heavy rainfall, flash flooding and strong winds damaged nearly 300 homes, 18 of which were destroyed. The lives of hundreds of families were altered and the destruction was substantial - more than $33 million in damages to public infrastructure and facilities alone.

FEMA needs to step up, do the right thing and help these people restore and rebuild their lives and homes. 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. We will be appealing this denial.

Some residents have not returned to their homes due to the damage caused by heavy rain and subsequent flooding that began Oct. 31, 2019. However, they are still paying mortgages on the damaged homes, while trying to afford rent somewhere else in the interim.

County Executive Anthony Picente wrote President Donald Trump directly, expressing his disappointment with the federal decision, and urging the president’s intervention to get local families the assistance they need.

"Again, this is just another unconscionable decision by an agency that's designed and established to assist in emergency situations for communities," said Picente during a press conference Friday.

FEMA approved public assistance for 18 counties in December to help with infrastructure repairs.

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