President Obama on Monday signed a disaster declaration ordering that federal aid be provided to assist in the recovery efforts of several counties across the state affected by the severe winter storm and flooding late last month.
The counties include Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Lewis, Orleans, St. Lawrence and Wyoming. Fourteen people were reported to have died during the storm, most due to cardiac-related complications due to shoveling heavy snow.
Federal funding will be available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments for any work, repairs, and replacements needed from the storm, Gannett’s Denise Nickerson reports.
FEMA said additional designations might be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. Initial reports indicated more than $49 million in damages.
“This much needed assistance will help communities still recovering from last month’s extreme snowfall and ensure that they are prepared for the upcoming winter months,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
“In the face of this severe weather, New Yorkers from every corner of the state came together to help their neighbors in western New York and the North Country in their time of need. I thank FEMA for recognizing the severity of this storm and for approving our request for aid.”
On Nov. 18, Cuomo declared a state of emergency and dispatched 150 National Guard soldiers and airmen to western New York to respond to the more than four feet of snow dumped on parts of Buffalo’s southern towns.
By Thanksgiving, more than 70 inches of snow had accumulated on some parts of the Buffalo area, and more than 100 cars were temporarily stranded on Interstate 90. As a result, several roads were closed in the western parts of the state including Route 219 between I-90 and Route 39, and Route 400 between Union Road and Route 16.
At least 30 large roofs collapsed because of the storm, most involving farm and flat-roof buildings.
The federal Small Business Administration disaster loans have been made available in Erie County and Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Genesee and Wyoming counties.
Loans up to $200,000 may be available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, with up to $2 million available for businesses.