Chautauqua and Cattaraugus are among the 11 New York counties approved for financial assistance after sustaining flood damage earlier this year.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that his June 16 request to President Barack Obama for a federal major disaster declaration has been approved for Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Delaware, Herkimer, Lewis, Livingston, Ontario, Otsego, Steuben and Yates counties. The declaration follows severe storms and flooding in May that caused serious damage and destruction in communities in central and Western New York. More than $28 million was spent for response and recovery efforts.
The federal funding will reimburse state, county and local governments for damages incurred during the storms, within a FEMA-specified incident period.
County Executive Vince Horrigan applauded the efforts of Cuomo and Congressman Tom Reed, R-Corning, as well as the response of local emergency services.
"We are very appreciative - Chautauqua County incurred around $1 million in damages (from the storms)," Horrigan said. "After FEMA comes and holds application briefings, we will send information to town and village supervisors and additional claims can be submitted."
According to Horrigan, the funds are limited to public infrastructure, including culverts, roads and power lines - damages which occurred on private property are not eligible.
U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were among those who called for swift action to release much needed resources so that rebuilding efforts can begin.
"Communities across Upstate New York sustained damage after severe storms washed away roads and flooded homes and main street businesses," Gillibrand said. "This federal assistance will help jump start recovery efforts across Upstate New York and provide impacted communities with the resources they need to get back on their feet."
According to Schumer, he is also pleased the state's application for disaster relief was approved.
"Cities and towns in 11 counties across Upstate New York were devastated by severe flooding earlier this year, and this disaster declaration will enable them to get the funds they still need to recover," Schumer said.
Cuomo felt similarly.
"This declaration will bring much needed federal financial assistance to localities that have endured serious hardship and destruction, and help provide for vital repairs following some of the worst flooding these communities have experienced in decades," Cuomo said.
Reed announced in June that the affected counties exceeded the New York state threshold of $26.9 million for federal assistance, and urged the governor to request the federal funds from the president after Reed worked with affected counties to report and tally storm damages.
"To me, giving these communities a fair chance to repair is the right thing to do - they shouldn't have to wait any longer for help to rebuild," Reed said.