Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today hosted the NY Rising Community Reconstruction conference in Albany, bringing together the members of the state's 45 local planning committees to collaborate on ideas and strategies for long-term rebuilding following the major storms over the past two and a half years. The meeting is being held one week before the one year anniversary of Super Storm Sandy.
"Ever since the devastation caused by Irene, Lee and most recently Superstorm Sandy, New York State has been working to help families and businesses recover while investing in communities building back stronger and better than before," Governor Cuomo said. "The NY Rising Community Reconstruction program is at the center of this effort, bringing together those that know their own communities best to guide the local rebuilding process. This conference serves as a valuable opportunity for members of the NY Rising program to share ideas and discuss strategies to make communities stronger than ever before as New York State expands its investment in supporting local recovery and resiliency efforts."
At the conference, co-chairs and members of several planning committees presented an update on their progress creating a recovery plan for their communities.
From communities affected by Superstorm Sandy, the following planning committee co-chairs presented:
- Ron Beattie and Richard Remmer, Hamlets of Oakdale and West Sayville (Suffolk)
- Ray Accettella and Dominic Bencivenga, Village of Babylon and Hamlet of West Babylon (Suffolk)
- Dewey Smalls and Robert Weltner, Village of Freeport (Nassau)
- Joel Crystal, City of Long Beach (Nassau)
- Frances Scarantino and John Calcagnile, Howard Beach/Old Howard Beach/West Hamilton Beach (Queens)
- David Sorkin and Vincent Lenza, East and South Shores of Staten Island
- Carol OBeirne and Glen Faulkner, Village of Margaretville (Delaware County)
- Bonita Chase and Kristin Tompkins, Town of Prattsville (Greene County)
- Dr. John Baust, Broome County Communities/Tioga County Communities (joint presentation)
- Dr. Quintin Bullock and Thomas Yuille, City of Schenectady/Town of Rotterdam (Schenectady County)
- Ladan Alomar and Mark Kilmer, City of Amsterdam/Town of Amsterdam/Town of Florida (Montgomery County)
- Scott McDonald, Town of Jay/Town of Keene (Essex County)
About the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program:
The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program launched earlier this year by the Governor and funded by the federal recovery dollars is designed to empower communities that suffered significant damage in recent storms to create and implement locally-oriented strategies to rebuild and better prepare for future extreme weather.
More than 102 communities across the state are now represented on New York Rising Community Reconstruction Planning Committees by community leaders, experts, and officials who incorporate their communitys unique needs into their redevelopment strategies. Communities have eight months to prepare and submit their plans. The communities are eligible for awards ranging from $3 million to $25 million, based on FEMA assessed damage levels.
In total, the communities will be eligible to share in more than $500 million of funding made available through the federal supplemental appropriation the Governor worked with Congress to obtain earlier this year.
The State will also award at least $250 million of the States FEMA-funded Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to New York Rising Communities to implement eligible projects contained in their plans. In addition, a $3 million bonus will be awarded for best plans in several categories, including community involvement, use of technology in planning, and best regional collaboration.
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said, Governor Cuomo has been a tremendous friend to the Capital Region as we continue to build back from Hurricane Irene. Communities affected by the recent storms are coming back stronger and better than ever thanks to the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, which has focused on bringing local business, advocates and community leaders together to determine the best way forward for each individual area. With the Governors support, this ground-up approach is providing the resources needed to develop long-term recovery and sustainability plans that meet local needs.
Waterford Mayor Bert Mahoney said, The aftermath of Hurricane Irene was truly devastating, but we have come a long way since then. By working together with our partners both in state government and the local community, we have been making considerable progress toward building back better than ever. Waterford is better off because of the NY Rising program, and we are thankful for the hard work of Governor Cuomo and everyone else involved in this collaborative effort.
Rotterdam Supervisor Harry Buffardi said, Here in Rotterdam, we are grateful for the hard work put forward by the members of the NY Rising program. This ground-up program is truly valuing community involvement so that we can not only build back what was lost, but do so better, stronger, and in a way that works best for the local community. The storms that weve seen over the past few years have been devastating, but with the Governors support, we are finding a silver lining that will benefit residents and businesses for years to come.
Prattsville Supervisor Kory OHara said, Through the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, communities like Prattsville have set out on a course to build back stronger than ever before in a way that prepares us for the next major storm and meets local needs. Community leaders, residents and local experts have gotten the ball rolling on the rebuilding of our community, and we are thankful for the Governors support as we continue our progress to getting back on our feet.
Dr. Quintin B. Bullock, co-chair of the Schenectady-Rotterdam Planning Committee, said, We are very excited to be a part of the NY Rising process to engage our communities in extensive dialogue, as well as identify a comprehensive plan to rebuild our communities to be more resilient in the future.
Kevin Piccoli, co-chair of the Prattsville Planning Committee, said, This is truly an exciting opportunity for our community and region. The NY Rising program will help us accomplish the vision for the future of our Town. We have always been committed to bring the Town back better and more resilient than it was prior to the devastation from the storms, but now, thanks to this program, we are now enabled to make it happen. With a lot of hard work and dedication we can continue to rebuild a Town for our children and their children to enjoy.
Ladan Alomar and Mark Kilmer, co-chairs of the Amsterdam/Florida Planning Committee, said, "This is such an exciting opportunity to bring our communities together to shape our own future. In the few short months since the launch of the NY Rising program we have made great progress in shaping a vision and path to resilience that is uniquely our own. We look forward to seeing this vision grow and develop."
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, By bringing together state officials and local community leaders, Governor Cuomo has led by example in showing how partnership and collaboration can yield the best results for New Yorks storm-impacted localities. The ability to collaborate across town, city and county lines has demonstrated the New York sense of community that exists nowhere else, and I am appreciative of the work that all of our local community members have put in alongside our partners in state government toward building a stronger Suffolk County."
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said, "By bringing local community and business leaders together to identify ways to rebuild that work best for our region, Governor Cuomo has emphasized a grass-roots model that will deliver positive results for even the most flood-impacted areas of Long Island. I am very appreciative of the Governors support through the NY Rising program, as well as the hard work of the representatives from Nassau County, and I look forward to seeing our communities built back better than ever before.
Mastic Beach Village Mayor Bill Biondi said, Mastic Beach and Smith Point of Shirley have made progress in their efforts to recover after the disastrous effects of Hurricane Sandy. As we continue that progress, the NY Rising program is a clear asset to ensuring that we not only rebuild, but rebuild smarter and with the most pressing local needs in mind. The Governors program gives an added emphasis to community voices that know best and thats an approach that will yield positive results for our community for years to come."
Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said, "I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to finding local solutions for storm-impacted communities in the Town of Babylon. The New York Rising program has brought a renewed vision of recovery to our town, one that focuses on putting local needs first, and as a result were well on our way to building a community that is more resilient than ever before.
Islip Township Deputy Supervisor Eric Hofmeister said, NY Rising is a unique and useful approach to community rebuilding that has proved to be a monumental success in Islip Towns resiliency planning and recovery process. By collaborating with state and local officials and community leaders, Islip has been able to meet the needs of its constituency, while simultaneously furthering our preparedness for future natural disasters. We are grateful for Governor Cuomos support through this program, and look forward to continued progress.
Ronald Beattie and Richard Remmer, co-chairs of the Oakdale-West Sayville Planning Committee, said, "We are proud and excited to have been chosen as co-chairs to help the Oakdale-West Sayville communities rebuild better after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy. Both of us are lifelong residents of Oakdale and have deep roots in the community. We take the responsibility to help our community very seriously and are appreciative of the efforts by New York State and the federal government, the Town of Islip and the Nature Conservancy to help our community rebuild better. We are committed to make our community a showcase for turning devastation into triumph by cooperating with nature and embracing our historic ties to our waterfront."
Broome County Executive Debbie Preston said, Having a program dedicated solely to helping communities rebuild is a valuable asset, says Broome County Executive Debbie Preston. Ive seen the devastation caused by two different floods, and the difficulty of trying to pick up the pieces after those events. The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program will not only help people get back on their feet, it will provide rebuilding ideas that have worked in different areas of similar size statewide.
Dale Weston, chairman of the Tioga County Legislature, said, The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program is a welcome program introduced by NYS Governor Cuomo. The merit of this program is that it comes to the grass roots level at a very opportune time to the residents of Tioga County. People here are still struggling with recovery from the devastating flood events. Tioga County applauds the Governor for this endeavor.
Margaretville Mayor Diana Cope said, The village of Margaretville has long suffered from the effects of flooding, Irene leaving the worst mark. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership and through his CRZ Initiative, we as a community will be able to build back smarter and better, providing a safer and economically stronger village for future generations. We, as a community thank Governor Cuomo for this unique and inspiring opportunity.
Village of Sidney Mayor Andy Matviak said, After two floods, the last in 2011 we worked with our community putting together a long term strategy plan for the Village of Sidney. The Governors New York Rising program provides the tools and resources our community needs to implement our mitigation plan and our economic growth vision. This program gave us the light at the end of a very long tunnel.
Nichols Mayor Leslie Pelotte said, The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program will allow upstate communities to become more flood resilient. In the Village of Nichols we would like to use some of the funds to have our Levee accredited. An accredited Levee would potentially save our residents thousands of dollars in flood insurance that for some of our residents could amount to more than their mortgage payments. We are looking at ways to help our residents raise their utilities to an area above the threat of water damage, just to name a few ways to help our residents. By including upstate in this program the Governor has shown upstate that he truly cares about us. I for one am very thankful we have Governor Cuomo.
Vestal Town Supervisor John Schaffer said, The NY Rising program is an important part of Vestals ongoing recovery after the extreme weather of the past few years. The programs focus on using feedback from local residents and business owners to develop strategies for rebuilding has resulted in encouraging progress so far, and I am confident that with the Governors continued support we will continue to make headway on building a more resilient community.
Union Town Supervisor Rose Sotak said, The Governors ongoing commitment to helping Town of Union residents will make a major difference in their lives. The teamwork embodied by federal, state and local government cooperation combined with achieving comprehensive community communication via the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program will result in establishing a formidable long-term disaster recovery plan for our region. I applaud the Governor for his actions and his attentiveness to pro-active planning.
Glen Faulkner and Carol OBeirne, co-chairs of the Margaretville Planning Committee, said, The Village of Margaretville is engaged, energized, and excited about the opportunities presented by the Governors New York Rising Community Program. Benefitting from the extensive resources offered by our consultants (Tetra-Tech), we are able identify, study, and build upon the work already completed by numerous community and economic development plans previously completed. This research, along with a proactive community outreach program, will assist the Committee in prioritizing projects to mitigate flooding, facilitate economic growth, and bring back the enjoyment of living next to the East Branch of the Delaware River.
Jay Town Supervisor and Chairman of the Essex County Board of Legislators Randy Douglas said, Through the Governors NY Rising Program, community leaders from throughout Essex County have been hard at work identifying ways that we can both repair the damage from recent storms and prepare ourselves for the next round of extreme weather. This is a truly rewarding approach focusing on the needs of our community that local residents know and understand, and pairing that understanding with state level support and millions of dollars in federal disaster aid and it is one that is sure to produce truly positive results for storm impacted communities across the North Country and the State.
Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee said, Since the program began earlier this summer, the NY Rising Communities initiative has led to very productive meetings to determine how Keene and the surrounding communities can work together to rebuild after the storms of the last few years. The community input weve received has been tremendously valuable to our efforts, and with the states support we have begun to map out the best path to a stronger community. I know Im not alone in saying that Governor Cuomos willingness to listen to our needs and go the extra mile for our local community has been instrumental in our progress so far, and he will continue to be an important part of our ongoing recovery.
Scott McDonald, co-chair of the Jay/Keene Planning Committee, said, The NY Rising Program and its financial resources have allowed the communities of Jay and Keene to come together and develop and/or continue projects that will help to mitigate future suffering and loss by our residents. The concept of allowing communities to determine their own needs through community engagement and to develop plans, again through community input, to meet those needs has provided a real sense of energy and excitement for committee members. I am very proud to have been given this opportunity to co-chair this Committee with Vinny (McClelland) allowing me to give back to the communities that have been so good to me.
Orange County Executive Edward A. Diana said, We welcome Governor Cuomos initiative in dealing with these long-term issues that have affected Orange County residents in the wake of the devastation caused by recent storms Irene, Lee, and Sandy. Our County sustained significant damage, some of which remains outstanding. We support the coordinated effort to seek mitigation for these critical areas in order to rebuild and improve existing areas of concern and make improvements to avoid future damage.
Village of Saugerties Mayor William Murphy said, The residents of the Village of Saugerties took a severe hit from Sandy, particularly those living below the Cantine dam on Lighthouse Drive and Ferry Streets. Our lighthouse had flood waters on the ground floor for the first time since 1913 and many homes and businesses in the area were severely damaged or destroyed. We are very grateful to Governor Cuomo for giving us the opportunity to be a part of the NY Rising Community project. It gives us funding and the opportunity to work with our adjoining communities to strengthen our response to future storms. We look forward to implementing policy changes and structural improvements to lessen damage and protect our vulnerable citizens from future storms and disasters.
Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall said, "The Governor's NY Rising program has focused on bringing community involvement into the storm recovery and rebuilding process, which means that local residents and businesses have a defining role in shaping how Queens moves forward after the extreme weather we experienced last year. Hurricane Sandy disrupted communities all throughout Queens, but today our progress continues toward building back in a way that makes us stronger, more resilient, and more united."
David Sorkin and Vincent Lenza, co-chairs of the Staten Island Planning Committee, said, We are so impressed with the ability of our community to come together quickly to begin the process of implementing NY Rising in Staten Island. In the unique position of having a single committee representing our community, we have been able to bring together community leaders with an incredible continuum of experiences and expertise that reflect the full spectrum of the current and future needs of the community we represent. Because of the breadth of the experiences of this group, we have been able to quickly assess current assets as well as opportunities to implement many important existing plans that would otherwise not come to fruition.
Frances O. Scarantino, co-chair of the Howard Beach Planning Committee, said, Working with this committee has made me very hopeful for the future of Howard Beach's continued recovery.