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Katko, FEMA administrator discuss disaster relief for Lake Ontario flood damage

Congressman John Katko Facebook
Rep. John Katko took Pete Gaynor, acting administrator for FEMA to Sodus Point to tour flooding damage.

This week, central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) brought acting administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Pete Gaynor, to tour some of the flooding damage along the Lake Ontario shoreline. The purpose was to figure out how to get funding for those affected. 

Katko said it starts with local authorities aggregating the extent of the damages. The state will decide if it warrants a disaster declaration. Then, it goes to the president, which if he approves it, would release funds.

“It’s highly complicated, but they’re going through that process now, and we’re really pounding the local administrators in each of the eight affected counties, to make sure that they get that money aggregated properly,” Katko said.

FEMA funding for pre-disaster mitigation was increased last year. Katko said he has also introduced legislation that would make FEMA disaster teams a permanent fixture in affected areas like the Lake Ontario shoreline, for faster, more efficient evaluations. Katko is still a critic of Plan 2014, the International Joint Commission’s regulation of outflows from Lake Ontario, which he called an utter disaster.

“There’s been flooding two out of the three years, significant flooding, and they’re not releasing water at the levels they should,” Katko said.

Some IJC members said rainfall is to blame for the high water levels. Katko said climate change is a small contributing factor. FEMA acting Administrator Pete Gaynor encouraged shoreline residents to have flood insurance, as the best way to get recovered for damages.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.