Could recent hurricanes hurt New York's chances for FEMA aid?

Sep 11, 2017


Hurricanes in the southern U.S. have captured the nation's attention, and the federal funding used to help communities recover. That's concerning some in New York, where state lawmakers are still seeking federal aid for the months-long flooding along Lake Ontario.

In Oswego, the waves of Lake Ontario crash against large rocks that protect Rich Bowman's house. The lake is down from record high levels this spring, but it's still 20 inches above normal - which is why Bowman is thankful for this new barrier in his backyard.

"This is pretty much what’s saving everybody now," Bowman said. 

The rocks were paid for with state aid, but there's more work to be done at Bowman's house.

New York approved $15 million in flood aid for residents The author of that legislation, State Sen. Pam Helming, says it's not enough. And she fears that may go overlooked in Washington, D.C.

"You know, the Houston flooding is a horrific natural disaster, but I want to make sure that our property owners and our business owners along the southern shore of Lake Ontario aren't forgotten," Helming said. "They suffered incredible damage as well."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) does not think the hurricanes will hurt her home state's efforts to get federal aid. She notes that Congress recently approved more funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"We will always make more money available if there are more national disasters," Gillibrand said. "We are not going to pay one national disaster but not the other."

FEMA is currently assessing damage in New York state. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said their process is pretty far along. 

"FEMA’s been up here routinely but engaged at our behest, so hopefully that will help get some relief up here on the shorelines," Katko said. "I think we're going to be able to see some assistance up here."