ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County will be included in the counties eligible for public assistance in dealing with heavy storms this June.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency added it, along with Broome, Chautauqua and Clinton counties, to the counties included in a disaster declaration following heavy rain and flooding in June.
"It's very important to us, and we're very thankful to the governor's office and the president for making Essex, Clinton, Chautauqua and Broome counties a part of this process," Essex County board Chairman Randy Douglas said at a Monday meeting of the county's Ways and Means Committee.
The county heard about the addition Saturday through a letter from FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, Douglas said.
The original disaster declaration included areas hit by heavy rainfall and flooding on June 26 through 28, but Douglas said the declaration has been extended to include areas hit by severe storms as early as June 4, Douglas said.
Douglas said the declaration impacts Clinton County more than Essex County, but Essex County's staff worked hard to put together damage estimates.
"It took a long time to get to, but we go it," Douglas said.
Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand advocated for the addition, according to a press release from their offices.
"We are pleased that FEMA has made Broome, Chautauqua, Clinton and Essex counties eligible for federal public assistance, which will help them make repairs and rebuild from the storm in late June," Schumer said in the press release. "This federal disaster assistance is necessary because it will give reassurance to our communities that the federal government will be there to help as they continue their response efforts and begin to recover from the storm."
At the height of the storms, more than 13,000 New Yorkers were without power, according to the press release. Significant flooding caused by the overflowing of the Mohawk River due to heavy rainfall has ravaged 15 counties, forced hundreds to evacuate from their homes, destroyed countless amounts of personal property, and rendered critical infrastructure such as water treatment plants, power stations and canal locks inoperable or significantly damaged.
"From the North Country to the Southern Tier, no one can question the severity of this massive storm or the suffering these communities have endured," Gillibrand said in the release. "We need any available federal assistance to continue the hard work of cleaning up and rebuilding. These federal funds will go a long way to help our communities stand strong."
The FEMA money can reimburse projects that help communities recover from the storms, such as debris removal, emergency protective measures and the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly-owned or nonprofit facilities.
The money would require sharing of costs, with the federal government covering at least 75 percent of spending, according to the press release.
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