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The Empire

Cuomo, Christie and other governors call on Feds for disaster relief

Friday, September 23, 2011

Governor Cuomo speaking to reporters in Goshen, NY (David Lucas / WAMC)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and the governors of Pennsylvania and North Carolina are calling on Washington to put aside politics and fund disaster relief for their states hit hard by recent storms.

"While the flood waters have receded and the storms are passed, the damage to communities, businesses and infrastructure remains significant. Billions of dollars in loss and destruction pose a serious threat not only to local and regional economies, but to the nation’s economic recovery," the statement reads.

It goes on to point out that, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Federal government was able to authorize $60 billion within ten days of the storm. It's been nearly a month since Tropical Storm Irene and the remnants of Hurricane Lee caused major rain and flood damage throughout the East Coast.

Federal funds have been held up in Congress. After a surprising defeat earlier this week, the House Republican majority was able to pass a bill that authorized $3.7 billion in disaster funds, only to see the bill defeated in the Senate earlier today.

In an interview with New York State Public Radio bureau chief Karen Dewitt earlier today, Cuomo called the issue "deadly serious" and said the state was not in a position to pick up the tab.

"This is the last issue they should play their politics with," the governor said. "It means the difference between living in a shelter and moving back into your home for some people."

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The Takeaway

Congressional Showdown Over FEMA Funding

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A vote scheduled by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on a stopgap bill, known as a continuing resolution, to keep the government funded through November 18 has become unexpectedly controversial. The government could be headed for a shutdown, as Democrats have vowed to block a provision of the bill concerning funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The bill includes $1 billion in immediate funding for cash-strapped FEMA, but offsets the spending with cuts to the Energy Department's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. Todd Zwillich, The Takeaway's Washington correspondent, has the latest on the story.

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The Empire

Cuomo calls on New Yorkers to volunteer in Irene recovery

Friday, September 02, 2011

By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief

Governor Cuomo surveying damage in Margaretville earlier this week. (Courtesy of the Governor's office.)

Governor Andrew Cuomo has launched what he’s calling “Labor for your Neighbor”, an effort to organize New Yorkers who want to help flood victims clean up from the damage over the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

The governor says his staff will set up staging areas to ferry volunteers into flood ravaged regions in the Catskills, Schoharie, and Northern New York, to help with the hard work of cleaning up the mud and debris left from the storm.

The governor says what’s required is “old fashioned elbow grease, that is just a bucket and a mop and a rag and a broom and a shovel”.

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The Takeaway

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate on Responding to Irene

Thursday, September 01, 2011

As residents of the East Coast begin putting their lives back together after Tropical Storm Irene devastated homes and businesses across the region, questions are being asked about how prepared communities were for the onslaught and whether they have the resources needed to recover quickly. Craig Fugate, administrator of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is in charge of preparing and responding to natural disasters like Irene. He's been visiting the areas impacted the most by the storm, and discusses the recovery process.

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The Empire

Cuomo and Napolitano promise relief to struggling upstate New Yorkers

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Governor Cuomo with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, right, in Prattsville Wednesday. (Karen DeWitt / WXXI)

By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief

Tom McGlynn stood on the main street of his flood-ravaged town, waiting for Governor Cuomo’s helicopter and the visit from the federal officials. The street bustled with National Guard troops, emergency medics, fire trucks and police. Dust from drying mud, gas fumes from fuel leaks, and the first wafts of rotting garbage filled the air.

McGlynn says he is still trying to process what happened, three days after the waters destroyed his home.

“There’s nothing left of it,” said McGlynn. “The whole first floor is gone, and a two-car garage with a room over it, that’s in my neighbors’ yard.”

McGlynn says he and his wife escaped with their lives.

“What I have on me is what I left,” McGlynn said. “It’s unbelievable”.

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WNYC News

Many Still Stranded in Flood-Ravaged Catskills

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WNYC

Rain and wind from Tropical Storm Irene destroyed roads, washed bridges away, knocked down trees and ripped buildings from their foundation in the Catskills, leaving people stranded and isolated from help. Recovery from the storm could cost $1 billion and take several months.

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The Empire

Brooklyn BP Markowitz blasts borough's exclusion from disaster zones

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Amy Sussman / Getty

Governor Cuomo was thanking the Federal government for declaring counties in New York as disaster zones. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is doing the opposite, after Kings County was not included:

In Brooklyn, hundreds of trees were knocked down, doing significant damage to cars, homes and infrastructure, and some Brooklynites remain without power. Brooklyn’s low-lying ‘Zone A’ neighborhoods that were evacuated saw significant flooding, including Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Coney Island, Red Hook, DUMBO and Williamsburg. Just yesterday, it was discovered that a section of the BQE may be unstable as a result of storm damage and will need urgent repair. The storm even made landfall at Coney Island.

Given these facts, I am absolutely dumbfounded that federal officials have excluded Kings County from a disaster declaration for public assistance. I applaud Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg for requesting this help, and hope that FEMA immediately reverses this dreadful decision and includes Brooklyn.

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The Takeaway

After Irene, FEMA's Funding Dilemma

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene's rumble through the East Coast over the weekend is another natural disaster for FEMA deal with this year. At least 30 people have died, and that number may rise as flodding continues to cause problems in Vermont and upstate New York. Previously this year, the Mississippi River's had record-breaking floods and tornadoes ravaged through hundreds of miles of land, across numerous states. Already, FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund is running seriously low, with only $800 million to $1 billion left.

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The Empire

Cuomo, FEMA take air tour of Irene-ravaged Mohawk Valley

Monday, August 29, 2011

Governor Cuomo survey storm damage upstate. (Karen DeWitt / WXXI)

By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief

Governor Cuomo and a top FEMA official surveyed the damage caused by flooding in the Mohawk River and Schoharie Valley earlier today. The Mohawk River is seeping into Schenectady, flooding the historic stockade neighborhood and expected to break records set back in 1938.

In the Schoharie Valley, farms and homes are inundated from the churning brown waters. Governor Cuomo, who met with local officials, says it’s devastating.

“We paid a terrible price here,” said Cuomo. “And many of these communities are communities that can least afford to pay a terrible price.”

The governor brought along FEMA regional director Lynn Canton  to see the damage first hand, and to ask for aid, who said, after viewing the devastation, “it’s the story the world has missed”. Cuomo said the state would find a way to pay to repair the numerous roads and bridges damaged by the storm.

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The Takeaway

Irene Leaves Flooding in Vermont

Monday, August 29, 2011

Some parts of the country are recovering, other parts are still grappling with the consequences of Irene. And nowhere is the problem more acute than in Vermont, rivers are over-flowing some towns entirely covered by water. Governor Peter Shumlin says Vermont faces a full-blown flooding catastrophe. We get the latest from there from Mark Bosma, is spokesman for Vermont Emergency Management and Ross Sneyd, is News Editor for Vermont Public Radio.

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It's A Free Blog

Opinion: Why Hurricane Irene is a Good Test of "Big" Government

Friday, August 26, 2011

There is nothing to illustrate how much we need effective government than a disaster such as a hurricane. You can rant about how bad Big Government is and argue for cuts in spending, but even the most fiscally conservative person expects the governor and his/her staff to issue emergency orders and take over.

-Steffen Schmidt, It's A Free Country blogger.

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Transportation Nation

FEMA Officials Assessing Flood Damage To Montana Roads

Friday, June 03, 2011


(Roundup, MT-YPR) -- Federal emergency teams are in Montana assessing preliminary flood damage to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure.

Normally such assessments are used to determine whether a state might qualify for a presidential disaster declaration.

Governor Brian Schweitzer determined the flooding  so far warranted seeking the declaration.

In his request Schweitzer said, “This incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments.”

The Democrat included 37 of Montana’s 56 counties and 5 of its American Indian Reservations in the request to President Barack Obama.

One of the counties in that request is Musselshell in central Montana.

County officials estimate nearly 30 roads and up to 7 bridges were damaged by last weeks flooding. This includes washed out roads, sink holes, and at least two bridges that were knocked off their footings.

There could be additional damage but high water is prevent officials from getting a first hand look.

If the state’s request for a presidential disaster declaration is granted federal money could become available for roads, bridges and other public infrastructure.

This flooding was due to heavy rain.

DES officials say the worst is yet to come with anticipated spring run-off of mountain snowpack bringing even more water to swollen rivers.

 

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The Takeaway

FEMA Assesses Housing as Joplin Residents Pick Up the Pieces

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Joplin, Missouri is trying to pick up the pieces from last week’s massive tornado. In addition to killing 134 people, more than 8,000 homes and apartments were destroyed or damaged in the 200 mile an hour winds — between 25 and 30 percent of the housing market. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, says more than 7,000 Joplin residents in Jasper and Newton counties have registered for assistance so far, and they are still assessing how to best assist them.

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Transportation Nation

Senator Max Baucus Asks for Federal Dollars for Montana's Flood-Damaged Roads & Bridges

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Montana flooding in Crow Agency south of Billings (photo by Donna Martinez/American Red Cross)

(Billings, Montana -- Yellowstone Public Radio) Senator Max Baucus is calling for a quick federal response after touring some of Montana’s flood-ravaged roads, bridges and other infrastructure this week.

During a conference call late last week with county and tribal officials, Baucus was told some county roads were “liquefied” by the flood waters. The officials added they don’t have the money for repairs. Afterwards, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure wrote a letter to US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to request federal funds to help pay for repairs.

“A lot of America is stressed by Mother Nature,” Baucus says. “So there may be an opportunity there in a disaster appropriations bill to include some special Montana needs. It might include some county roads and bridges.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are now in Montana assessing the damage from May’s flooding.

Officials are warning Montanans and those downstream that heavy mountain snowpack has just begun melting -- which will further strain swollen rivers, streams and saturated ground.

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The Takeaway

FEMA Wants $22 Million in Aid Back

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, better known as FEMA, is asking thousands of Americans to return more than $22 million in government aid. The agency claims that it doled that money erroneously, to disaster victims ineligible for the support. In some cases, individual claimants will be asked to return up to $27,000.

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WNYC News

Tornado Ravaged Trees Won't be Replaced with Federal Funds

Monday, October 25, 2010

WNYC

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin meeting with city agencies and non-profit groups this week to assess what reimbursements they'll be processing to cover storm damages from last month's tornados.

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WQXR News

Parts of New York City Earn Federal Disaster Declaration After September Storms

Thursday, October 14, 2010

President Barack Obama has formally declared parts of New York City a disaster area because of the tornados and severe storms that ripped through Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island last month.

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WNYC News

Parts of City Earn Disaster Declaration Following September Storms

Thursday, October 14, 2010

President Barack Obama has formally declared parts of New York City a disaster area because of the tornados and severe storms that ripped through Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island last month.

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WNYC News

Watch Out for Loose Branches in the Next Storm

Thursday, September 30, 2010

WNYC

City officials are urging New Yorkers to exercise caution during tonight's storm -- with two to four inches of rain expected and winds that could gust up to 60 miles per hour.

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