N.Y. Gov. Requests Federal Disaster Aid for 14 Counties Following Storms

New York Gov. George Pataki has asked President Bush to declare a major federal disaster for 14 counties across the State, making them eligible for federal assistance as a result of the April 2-4 rain storms that resulted in record or near-record floods, that forced hundreds of people from their homes and caused widespread damage.

The Governor announced his request for presidential emergency declaration at a recent press conference with State and local officials who were gathered at Stewart Airport in Newburgh. He also announced a special appropriation of $1 million for the American Red Cross to provide immediate relief to flood victims while the State awaits a decision on federal assistance.

“The impact from these storms was devastating and widespread and is magnified by the fact that many of these areas were just beginning to recover from similar flooding late last summer,” Gov. Pataki said. “The raging floodwaters caused the unfortunate loss of lives, forced hundreds of New Yorkers from their homes, destroyed hundreds of residences and damaged hundreds more.

“While New York State continues to do everything possible to help ease the hardships suffered by citizens and businesses and assist local communities throughout these flooded areas, it is clear that federal assistance is needed,” the Governor said. “I urge FEMA to act quickly on our request.

“In the meantime, the State assistance being authorized today will provide our fellow New Yorkers with the immediate help they need to get through the coming weeks. I’m very pleased that the Red Cross will be involved in facilitating this effort.”

The 14 counties that the Governor is requesting federal assistance for are as follows: Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Tioga and Ulster.

Initial data collected by the inspection teams show that more than 150 residences were destroyed during the floods including 91 in Ulster, 24 in Orange and 23 in Broome counties. More than 700 residences sustained major structural damage and an additional 1,580 suffered minor damage.

Hundreds of residents were forced from their homes by rising floodwaters as rain-swollen creeks and rivers went over their banks. Rainfall amounts across the State were generally 1-3 inches, with higher totals of 2-4 inches in western regions of the State and 3-6 inches recorded in the Catskills.