UTICA — New York state and Oneida County have no moves left to get federal funding after FEMA denied an appeal of the decision to deny a major disaster declaration for flooding damage.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr. said it’s an outrage that FEMA doesn’t see the need in Oneida County and the rest of the state to
“It really does showcase that municipalities like ours have to struggle on our own,” Picente said. “I’m going to fight against that. … FEMA is supposed to be that arm that takes care of it and when they let us down, I don’t know. I really want to talk more to the state and see if there’s anything.”
On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand urged FEMA to reconsider their decision to deny the state’s appeal.
“Simply put, FEMA has made a critical mistake by denying New York’s disaster declaration for the series of related summer storms that caused so much flooding and damage across upstate,” Schumer said in a news release. “The damage is significant and pervasive throughout these counties, and if FEMA honestly thinks there is not ‘enough,’ I encourage them to visit these impacted communities and explain to these New Yorkers why they are not eligible for the same level of federal assistance other counties received this year.”
Oneida County officials have allocated $500,000 for cleanup costs and $250,000 to area households through the Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties. The county also allocated $12 million over the next six years to pay for mitigation efforts.
But there still are people living in Oneida County with thousands of dollars of damage to their homes or businesses and unless they get a low interest loan, there aren’t a lot of options, Picente said.
The county executive plans to focus on the issues locally that the county can fix or start fixing and take action.
“I think the best thing we have to do now is focus on getting these mitigation projects fixed and continue to work so that this kind of flooding doesn’t happen,” he said. “The interesting thing, too, is I’ve written two letters to the administrator and I haven’t heard from one FEMA official to even acknowledge the receipt of a letter. Nothing. It’s really like a black hole; you ask for help, you don’t get it, you ask why, you don’t get an answer, you ask why, you still don’t get an answer. And that becomes even more frustrating.”
Contact reporter Samantha Madison at 315-792-5015 or follow her on Twitter (@OD_Madison).