Bruce Brodoff Communications
Bruce Brodoff Communications
Rethink flood aid, state urges feds
By Michael Woyton (Poughkeepsie Journal; January 26, 2006)

An appeal for disaster assistance for flood-damaged Dutchess County towns is back in the hands of the federal government.

Gov. George Pataki, through the state Emergency Management Office, sent a letter Monday asking for an appeal of the Federal Emergency Management Agency denial in December of assistance for municipalities in Dutchess, Nassau, Queens and Suffolk counties.

"Our office has acknowledged the governor's request, and we are preparing the material to be sent down to Washington, D.C.," said FEMA Region 2 spokesman Bruce Brodoff.

There is no set timetable for the appeal process, he said. "But we will get it in ASAP," Brodoff said.

FEMA-Region 2 covers New York, New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Territory of U.S. Virgin Islands.

"The ball is in their court," said state Emergency Management Office spokesman Dennis Michalski, referring to FEMA. The state looked at all the figures again and decided to pursue an appeal, he said. Nassau County provided additional damage estimates, but Dutchess did not. The state request covers all four counties.

"Part of our argument was from the (U.S.) Small Business Administration," he said. "When they did their preliminary damage assessment, they found there was ample damage, specifically in Nassau, Suffolk and Queens."

The towns of Dover, Amenia, Washington and Union Vale declared states of emergency Oct. 14-15 when torrential rains damaged and destroyed roads and bridges.

The Village of Fishkill declared an emergency for the Elm Street neighborhood.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., urged FEMA Wednesday to reverse its decision.

"We need to make sure these folks get all the assistance they need. FEMA's original refusal was unfounded, unjust and unwise," he said in a prepared statement. "As soon as you visit these areas, it becomes very clear that they deserve help from the federal government."

Dover suffered more than $460,000 in flood-related damage. Town Attorney Shannon Martin LaFrance said much work is necessary to convince FEMA to change its decision.

"We need to show them that some of these municipalities have far exceeded the per capita threshold in order to receive federal and state aid," she said.

LaFrance, who also is a county legislator, said Dover had financial losses 49 times the FEMA threshold of $1.14 per person.

The state had submitted damage costs at 75 cents per person, far short of the federal minimum.

"I'm very happy (the state) decided to appeal," Amenia Supervisor Janet Reagon said. The town had $86,000 in highway department overtime costs because of the flood damage.

"That's about 4 percent of our 2006 budget," she said. "That's clearly a major expense."

Amenia's budget for 2006 is $2.4 million.

"For such small towns like Dover or Amenia, it's a huge hit," Reagon said.

In The News
Video screens
355 SOUTH END AVENUE, SUITE 4M, NEW YORK, NY 10280, TEL: 212.775.0739