There won’t be any federal assistance coming to areas of New York State that were damaged by flooding earlier this year. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it is denying the state’s request for major disaster assistance.
New York State requested individual and public assistance for 15 counties as well as hazard mitigation statewide, but according to its denial letter, FEMA didn't believe the damage was significant enough to qualify for additional aid above and beyond what the state and local governments can offer.
Oneida County has promised $250,000 in individual aid, $500,000 to help the affected municipalities and $2 million for flood mitigation. New York State has provided $2.5 million for flood prevention efforts, but officials admit it's not enough.
"The damage was really centered in economically distressed areas where we have a large population of elderly people," said Representative Claudia Tenney (R - NY 22). "We have a lot of people on fixed incomes or low-income individuals, and that makes it particularly onerous that they chose not to give us our funding that we needed."
Local officials described FEMA's decision as outrageous, unfair and incomprehensible.
"I understand the Houstons and the Floridas of the world -- no one's saying that that's not worthy -- but everything is relative, and how many homes does it take to be lost before you're counted?" asked Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.
Several local leaders are urging the state to appeal the decision. A spokesperson from Governor Andrew Cuomo's office says the office is still determining its next steps.