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Regional lawmakers accuse Governor Hochul of ‘turning his back’ on Steuben County flood victims: urge the state to finally provide direct, unconditional relief

At a time when the New York State government is doling out hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for everything under the sun, including unconditional aid for other hard-hit flood victims in other parts of the state, it is difficult to understand Governor Hochul. refusal to help Steuben County.

Woodhull, NY, September 29—It was more than a year since Tropical Storm Fred hit Steuben County last Augustcausing havoc flash flooding in many communities in the regionand today State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats), Congressman Phil Palmesano (R,C,I-Corning), Congressman Marjorie Byrnes (R,C-Caledonia) and Rep. Joe Giglio (R,C-Olean) slammed New York Governor Kathy Hochul for not providing the state financial assistance that is still needed to help many residents and business owners make a full recovery.

At a press conference at the Woodhull Youth Center on Thursday, O’Mara and Palmesano were joined by Steuben County Public Safety Director Tim Marshall, Woodhull City Supervisor Scott Grant, Rick Andrews, owner of HP Smith & Son, Inc. Funeral Home in Woodhull and Stacey Foster, a Woodhull landlady.

In a joint statement, O’Mara, Palmesano, Byrnes and Giglio said“We have done everything we can over the past year to work with Governor Hochul and her administration to secure and provide the direct state grants that would help communities, businesses and individual homeowners in the Steuben County to fully recover from last August’s devastating flash floods. Sadly, it is clear that Governor Hochul has turned her back on the communities and residents we represent. At a time when the New State government York is handing out hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for everything under the sun, including unconditional aid for other hard-hit flood victims in other parts of the state, it’s hard to fathom the governor Hochul’s refusal to help Steuben County. This makes no sense. This is wrong. Families, businesses and communities in Steuben County have been devastated and are still struggling to recover. It is inadmissible that Governor Hochul simply decides to say “bad luck”. Finally, it must declare that “help is on the way” and provide the direct help that is needed.

Lawmakers said emergency federal and state aid was provided to help repair public infrastructure, including help to rebuild Jasper-Troupsburg High School. The state covered the non-federal 10% share of disaster-related costs for localities. The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) offered low interest loans to businesses and homeowners.

Most importantly, they said, there has been overwhelming help and support from nearby communities and nonprofit organizations, including the United Way South.

Nevertheless, last September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) initially denied the state’s request for individual assistance in the form of direct grants to victims, then denied the state’s appeal regarding the denial earlier this year.

In February, the Hochul administration announced that $1 million in emergency repair grants were available to eligible homeowners whose primary residences were damaged by the storm.

But O’Mara, Palmesano, Byrnes and Giglio point out that the state has failed to ensure that this emergency aid can be used to repay homeowners who have already taken out loans or paid for repairs out of pocket to the late last year to replace boilers and furnaces and make other repairs before the onset of winter.

Lawmakers said“We keep hearing from owners who are still struggling to make ends meet after trying to rebuild and recover from Tropical Storm Fred. Business owners are still trying to get back on their feet and survive in an already uncertain economic climate.

They accuse the state of ignoring ongoing needs in Steuben County, despite repeated requests for assistance and despite assurances from the Hochul administration that the grant program would be changed to include out-of-pocket costs for homeowners. In addition, they believe that the state has enough funds to respond effectively to local needs.

In the immediate aftermath of flash floods that hit the county on August 17-18, causing an estimated $35 million in damage to infrastructure, businesses and homes, area lawmakers called on Hochul to immediately provide direct relief from the state to flood victims in Steuben County. . Specifically, they asked the governor to:

> authorize the State to fully assume the local share of disaster-related costs; and

> Provide direct state grants of $10,000 to $25,000 to cover repair and reconstruction costs for homeowners, and grants of $25,000 to $50,000 for businesses.

O’Mara, Palmesano, Byrnes and Giglio sent letters to the governor and had repeated discussions with senior Hochul administration officials pointing out that the state provided this type of assistance to flood victims following the severe storms in recent years.

In a January 18, 2022 letter to Hochul, lawmakers wrote: “We know you are well aware, particularly from your past experience as a local leader, how this type of historic flooding that destroys homes, businesses, personal property, roads, bridges , culverts and other local infrastructure – not to mention agricultural and environmental impacts – places tremendous pressure and stress on local communities, governments, individuals and families, farmers and land taxpayers. Therefore, we also urge you to immediately make available to individual homeowners, businesses, farms, and municipalities themselves direct state aids and other assistance – like New York State’s has done for hard-hit communities in the recent past.

Residents and businesses in Yates County, the Mohawk Valley, Lake Ontario and Sullivan County have all received direct assistance from New York State, they added.

At their press conference today, lawmakers said their continued efforts on behalf of Steuben County fell on deaf ears.

They also noted that Hochul immediately secured $27 million in state grants last September to help undocumented immigrants in New York. days after Hurricane Ida hit the area. She then also secured an additional $25 million in state funding in the 2022-23 state budget — a total of $52 million in assistance to the city’s undocumented immigrants, while residents , businesses and communities in rural Steuben County were and still are ignored.

Additionally, lawmakers said there is $32 million in the current budget to help localities across the state recover from the storm and $21 million in the contingency reserve that could be used to helping residents affected by Tropical Storm Fred.

O’Mara, Palmesano, Byrnes and Giglio saidIt didn’t go unnoticed that Governor Hochul was quick to come to the rescue elsewhere. In late September of last year, in the wake of Hurricane Ida and the devastation it inflicted on many New York City residents, Governor Hochul immediately provided $27 million in funding grants. state emergency to assist undocumented immigrants who were unable to receive federal grants. Assistance. She followed that up with an additional $25 million in this year’s budget, for a total of $52 million. It was the right thing to do and over the past year we have patiently worked with the Hochul administration to secure similar state grants for the residents we represent. If it’s the right thing to do for undocumented immigrants in New York, why isn’t it the right thing to do for landlords, families and businesses in rural Steuben County? Our requests were ignored. The state clearly has the resources to do this and Governor Hochul must act now for our communities, businesses and families in Steuben County.

Steuben County Executive Jack Wheeler saidWe sincerely thank State Senator O’Mara, Assemblyman Palmesano, Assemblywoman Byrnes, and Assemblyman Giglio for their tireless advocacy on behalf of the victims of August 18.e flood. They have worked around the clock to ensure our collective voice is heard in Albany as our owners and businesses continue to struggle to recover financially. Allowing retroactive reimbursement in the form of individual grants would be the most sensible and effective approach the state could take to properly assist our affected residents.

Woodhull Town Supervisor Scott Grant saidResidents and businesses in the Town of Woodhull are very resilient. For the past 13 months, despite no federal or state funding to help them, they have come together and done all they can to rebuild and maintain their homes and businesses in our wonderful city. Unfortunately, some residents may be gone, while others are still overwhelmed with the costs of rebuilding with today’s economic uncertainties. Thank goodness for the local contributions from neighboring communities and businesses that have helped our residents over the past year make their homes operational and livable. The financial and emotional strain is felt throughout the city, the lack of simple services like gas, groceries, food and postal services can only compound the problems, but eventually the city will bounce back, and the plots Vacant and empty spaces damaged by the flood will get repaired, replaced or demolished. Although FEMA will eventually pay back some of the money to fix our roads and public buildings, the real need is for families and businesses who have nowhere to go. This is where we need the help of our state government to give our residents some hope. It is really difficult to support certain state initiatives locally when it seems that the state has forgotten us in this time of need.