November 27, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Calls on Federal Government to Grant Disaster Declaration for Devastating October 31 Storm

Governor Cuomo Calls on Federal Government to Grant Disaster Declaration for Devastating October 31 Storm

Request Seeks Federal Financial Relief for Local Governments and Homeowners Impacted by Halloween Storm

Storm Caused More Than $33 Million in Damage to Public Infrastructure Throughout 18 Counties

More than 290 Homes Throughout Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer and Oneida Counties Sustained Damage, with 18 Being Destroyed

View the Governor's Request Here

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today called on the federal government to grant a Major Disaster Declaration for 18 counties devastated by flash flooding during severe storms on October 31. The 18 counties included in the request are Chautauqua, Chenango, Cortland, Erie, Essex, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Oswego, Otsego, Saratoga, Tioga and Warren Counties.

A Major Disaster Declaration would result in financial assistance from the federal government allowing local communities to continue their recovery. Assistance includes funding for emergency protective measures, debris removal and repairs to public buildings and infrastructure, as well as direct support for individuals and homeowners in Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer and Oneida Counties.

"This year's Halloween storm caused tremendous damage to infrastructure and homes across the entire state," Governor Cuomo said. "I am urging the federal government to validate the severity of these storm damages as soon as possible so we can begin to get the businesses and families the funding they need to repair and rebuild."

Even as New York's first responders and emergency management teams remained on the ground assisting local partners with storm response operations, the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services deployed specialists to assess damage in order to apply for federal disaster aid. The state remained in constant contact with FEMA throughout this process to push for an expedited review on the federal side once the preliminary damage assessments were finalized.

As a result of these efforts, state and federal experts have estimated that this storm caused more than $33 million in damage to public infrastructure to date. Funding to support the restoration of public infrastructure is being sought through FEMA's Public Assistance Program which provides reimbursement for local governments after a disaster has been declared by the President for activities such as debris removal, emergency protective measures, repair and rebuilding of publically-owned infrastructure that was damaged including roads, schools, bridges, parks, hospitals, police stations, fire houses, water and waste water treatment facilities and other public facilities.

Additionally, the Governor is requesting federal funding through FEMA's Individual Assistance Program for Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer and Oneida Counties. This program provides direct support to individuals and households. Throughout the damage assessment process, state, local and federal specialists determined 18 homes were destroyed, 135 sustained major damage, 136 sustained minor damage and 110 were otherwise affected in some way. If approved, eligible homeowners will work directly with FEMA to obtain funding.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick A. Murphy said, "The Governor's request for federal disaster aid is an essential piece in the recovery process as this funding is crucial in helping these communities rebuild following such a devastating storm. We thank FEMA for their partnership thus far and look forward to continuing that relationship in the future to help these communities build back better."

The National Weather Service and New York State Mesonet data indicate upstate New York received a widespread two to five inches of rain with isolated amounts up to seven inches during the storm. Although it began on October 31 and lasted into November 1, most rain fell within a six-hour period. This storm produced heavy rainfall, flash flooding and strong winds. In fact, flooding reached record levels on the West Canada Creek at the Hinckley Dam and Kast Bridge, Sacandaga River at Hope and Mohawk River at Little Falls. Some residents in the Mohawk Valley also needed to be evacuated, including residents in the Village of Frankfort in Herkimer County near Moyer Creek and in Chadwicks in Oneida County near Sauquoit Creek. Forty State and local members of Task Force 2, the State's swift water rescue team, rescued 65 people and 14 animals during the storm.

Over the course of the storm, more than 100 state roads were damaged, closed or otherwise impassable at the peak of the incident from floodwaters that overtopped multiple roads, bridges and culverts. Damage was caused by several weather-related factors ranging from erosion of roadway shoulders and damage to bridges, to complete destruction of culverts and roadways. Utility crews also had to restore power to more than 650,000 electric customers affected by the heavy rain, strong winds and gusts that lashed New York State beginning October 31 through November 2. At its peak, there were 246,621 customers without power.

On November 1, the Governor declared a state of emergency for Cayuga, Chautauqua, Cortland, Dutchess, Erie, Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Montgomery, Oneida, Saratoga and Warren counties. Before, during and following the storm, Governor Cuomo also directed the deployment of a wide range of state response equipment from multiple state agencies, hundreds of state personnel, members of the National Guard and various other resources to assist localities with response and clean-up operations. The Governor also established nine Disaster Assistance Services Centers throughout the Mohawk Valley and North Country immediately following the storm to provide residents with recovery services offered by state, county and non-profit organizations.

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism, man-made and natural disasters, and other emergencies. For more information, visit the DHSES Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter and Instagram, or visit

Contact the Governor's Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640


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