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Politics and Government

FEMA denies individual assistance to residents affected by Halloween storm in Mohawk Valley

flooding_5.jpg
Oneida County
Flooding damage from the Halloween storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is denying individual assistance to residents in parts of the Mohawk Valley, affected by severe flooding from a devastating Halloween storm that hit last year, which damaged 1,100 homes in Oneida County. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he'll appeal the decision. 

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente called it an unconscionable decision.

“I have to believe when you see a house go down a river, when you see a house hanging over an embankment, when you see homes full of two feet of mud and four feet of water, in their living spaces, when is it enough for FEMA to say this county, this region, this state, needs our assistance?” Picente said.

FEMA workers toured the area in November. But ultimately, it was decided that the overall damage was not enough to warrant individual aid to residents and businesses, based on the number of homes and businesses affected by the storm.

“What numbers were they looking at?" Picente said. "Because our numbers are pretty significant in terms of the millions of dollars of loss in this community and the hundreds of people who have been displaced, who are still not back in their homes. At what point is the federal government going to send us a lifeline?”

Oneida County has provided $500,000 to residents.

"Focusing on furnaces, hot water tanks, things that would get them back into their homes," Picente said. "In a few cases it's enough. In many, it's not." 

Picente wrote a letter to President Donald Trump, asking him to consider ways to award federal funding on a county-by-county basis.

Other New York elected officials were equally outraged by the FEMA decision. Cuomo said a one-sentence denial is woefully inadequate and the state will appeal. Mohawk Valley Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) called the decision heartless and North Country Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville) said her office will address FEMA directly.