Governor David A. Paterson today asked President Obama to issue a major disaster declaration for New York City and provide federal assistance to the five boroughs as a result of the damages incurred during the severe storm that spawned two tornadoes and a macroburst which swept through the City on September 16.
"The September 16 storm struck New York City with a vengeance, cutting-off electric power in thousands of homes and businesses, disrupting travel for thousands, and causing extensive property damage and, tragically, the loss of one life, " Governor Paterson said. "I have worked closely with Mayor Michael Bloomberg who told me that the City has not seen storm damage of this magnitude since Hurricane Gloria in 1985. New Yorkers need help from Washington in recovering from this devastating storm."
The Governor is seeking implementation of the Public Assistance program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in all five boroughs for the costs of response, debris removal and repairs to public property. Additionally, the Governor is seeking Individual Assistance (IA) program relief from FEMA for homeowners, renters and businesses in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
The IA program would provide disaster housing and rental assistance; other needs assistance for items such as clothing and household items, and disaster related medical costs; disaster unemployment assistance; case management; crisis counseling, and Small Business Administration low-interest loans.
The Governor is also seeking statewide implementation of FEMA's Hazard Mitigation program, which provides 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by State and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life or property from natural or technological disasters.
After the storm struck, Governor Paterson offered Mayor Bloomberg assistance from State agencies and directed the New York State Office of Emergency Management (NYS OEM) to implement the State's Comprehensive Emergency management plan and open the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the State agency response and recovery activities.
Crews from the State Department of Transportation, the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Department of Environmental Conservation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey assisted the City with tree and debris removal. The Division of Military and Naval Affairs provided logistical support to the New York City operation as well as providing National Guard personnel to aid in debris removal. The State Insurance Department activated its hotline to assist policy holders and carriers with insurance questions and concerns.
On September 17, the day after the storm, Governor Paterson asked FEMA to provide teams of inspectors to join State and City personnel to conduct a preliminary damage assessment in the boroughs.
Preliminary impact information from the joint assessment conducted September 22-25 indicates severe loss and damages to public and private property in excess of $27 million including:
The impact from downed trees was so severe that even with assistance from the New York City Fire Department Rapid Response teams and Sanitation Department workers as well as mutual aid from the adjacent counties of Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk and State agencies, debris remained in neighborhood streets more than one week after the tornado had passed. New York City's 311 system received more than 9,000 calls about damage to trees since the storm struck, including more than 3,500 reports of trees down and nearly 1,700 reports of hanging limbs which continue to pose a threat to public safety.
Governor Paterson named Andrew X. Feeney, Director of NYS OEM, as the State coordinating officer who will work with FEMA on the State's request.