Governor Cuomo Requests Federal Disaster Declaration to Release Federal Aid to Areas Impacted by Tropical Storm Isaias
Declaration Will Provide Financial Relief to Local Governments for Damage Incurred During the Storm in Early August
Nassau and Suffolk Counties Included in Request; Damage Assessments Continue in Other Counties
View the Governor’s Letter Here
New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today requested that the federal government grant a Major Disaster Declaration for areas that incurred significant damage resulting from Tropical Storm Isaias. A Major Disaster Declaration would result in financial assistance from the federal government allowing local communities to continue their recovery. Assistance includes funding for emergency protective measures, debris removal, and repairs to public buildings and infrastructure.
“Tropical Storm Isaias caused enormous disruptions in the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and I urge the federal government to recognize the severity of the damage that was caused and take action to provide the necessary funding and assistance they need,” Governor Cuomo said. “This storm caught utility companies off guard and New York State will continue assessing the other counties impacted as we make sure that all New Yorkers who need help receive it.”
Currently, Nassau and Suffolk Counties are included in the Governor’s request as they have been determined to have met their federally-required damage thresholds. Damage assessments are continuing in other counties throughout the impacted area. If those counties identify sufficient damages and are able to eclipse their own federally-required damage thresholds, the request will be amended to include them.
On August 21, Governor Cuomo requested a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment in which teams of state and federal experts estimated more than $48 million in infrastructure repair, debris removal and structure damage in Nassau and Suffolk Counties as a result of these storms. This total is expected to grow as damage assessments in the other counties are completed. According to FEMA regulations, a state can continue to add impacted counties to its request after the federal government declares the disaster.
The federal aid being requested by Governor Cuomo would come from FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, which provides reimbursement for local governments after a disaster has been declared by the federal government. These reimbursements can be for activities such as debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair and rebuilding of publicly-owned infrastructure including roads, schools, bridges, parks, hospitals, police stations, fire houses, water and waste water treatment facilities and other public facilities.
According to the National Weather Service, the center of Isaias passed about 65 miles west of New York City at 3 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2020. Over the course of the storm, heavy rains and damaging winds ranging from 35 to 55 mph, with gusts 60 to 80 mph, caused widespread power outages, road closures and damage to homes and public infrastructure. The majority of the storm’s impact focused across New York City, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley, which saw the highest rainfall totals. The highest total of 4.55 inches was located just north of Port Jervis.
During the course of the storm there were public transportation service disruptions and suspensions with the Long Island Rail Road, Staten Island Railway, Metro-North, MTA, and New York City and Staten Island Ferry Service. Many state roads were closed in the counties of Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester due to fallen trees and other wind- and flood-related damage. The New York State Thruway Authority implemented an empty trailer ban on the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge and the speed limit was reduced to 35 mph. Utilities deployed more than 7,000 workers to help with damage response and restoration of service to the more than 920,000 electric customers affected by outages caused by strong winds and heavy rains.