March 16, 2023
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Announces Federal Approval for Major Disaster Declaration Following Historic Winter Storm

Governor Hochul Announces Federal Approval for Major Disaster Declaration Following Historic Winter Storm

Declaration Provides Financial Reimbursement for Local Governments Impacted by Late December Winter Storm in Western New York, Finger Lakes, North Country and Long Island; Including Snow Assistance for Erie and Niagara Counties

Devastating Winter Storm Brought Inclement Weather Including Snow/Ice, Strong Winds, Extreme Wind Chill Across the State; Caused Blizzard Conditions in Western New York and Significant Coastal Flooding on Long Island

Major Disaster Declaration Builds on Previous Federal Assistance Secured by Governor Hochul to Provide Support for Response and Rescue Operations Following the Storm and Assistance for Small Businesses and Homeowners in Western New York

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Governor Kathy Hochul today announced President Biden approved her request for a Major Disaster Declaration to provide federal assistance to communities impacted by the late December winter storm that brought two straight days of blizzard conditions in Western New York and significant coastal flooding on Long Island. Under the Declaration, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, St. Lawrence and Suffolk counties are all eligible for the federal Public Assistance Program, which provides funding to support the restoration of publicly-owned infrastructure. The declaration also unlocks federal reimbursement for snow removal operations in Erie and Niagara counties and, under FEMA’s Individual Assistance program, funeral assistance is available to those impacted in Erie and Niagara counties where 47 New Yorkers tragically lost their lives.

“New Yorkers are still recovering from the devastating storm over the holidays that impacted communities across the state, causing flooding on Long Island and a record breaking, deadly blizzard in my hometown of Buffalo,” Governor Hochul said. “I’m thankful President Biden and FEMA Administrator Criswell approved my request for a Major Disaster Declaration, which will provide much-needed assistance to the hardest-hit communities and help them recover.”

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Disaster Recovery Office worked directly with counterparts at FEMA and impacted local governments to assess damages caused by, and costs related to, the disaster to obtain a Major Disaster Declaration.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, “This was a devastating storm for the Western New York community and brought significant impacts and damage across the entire state. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Hochul and the support of our federal partners, DHSES will administer this critical funding and continue to support New Yorkers and local governments impacted by this storm.”

A Major Disaster Declaration for the late December storm builds upon federal assistance already secured by Governor Hochul through a December 26 federal Emergency Declaration which supported response and rescue operations throughout the six-day event.

Last month, Governor Hochul also announced the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is now offering federal assistance to residents and businesses in Western New York that were impacted by the blizzard. The SBA currently has an in-person Disaster Loan Outreach Center open in the City of Buffalo through March 24, located at the Delavan Grider Community Center, 877 East Delavan Ave. The site is open weekdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Senator Charles Schumer said, “The deadly December blizzard was a once in a generation storm, bringing hurricane-force winds, mass power outages, and tragically resulted in nearly 50 New Yorkers losing their lives, mostly in the City of Buffalo. I fought non-stop to elevate the voices of Western New York to the highest levels of government talking to the FEMA Administrator, White House Chief of Staff, and even the President himself on Air Force One, because I knew Buffalo and Erie County needed this funding to truly start on the long road to recovery from this horrific storm. Working alongside Governor Hochul, we fought to make sure this funding was delivered to reimburse Western New York and other impacted communities for the tremendous damage they suffered. While nothing can truly make the Buffalo community whole after the immeasurable loss of life it suffered because of this tragic storm, this funding will provide the support needed to rebuild, and rebuild stronger, and provide additional assistance to those who lost loved ones in the storm. I sincerely thank President Biden for heeding our calls to ensure communities across New York impacted by this storm have the support they need to recover.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, “This Major Disaster Declaration means the city of Buffalo can continue to rebuild from the devastating loss suffered because of Winter Storm Elliott. Given the scope and historic nature of this storm, I fought for and secured these emergency federal resources to help the Buffalo community recover from the significant damage caused by the snow. I will continue fighting to lay the foundation for a stronger, more resilient future to keep all New Yorkers safe during winter storms.”

Representative Brian Higgins said, “The December blizzard was unlike anything the Western New York community has experienced. As we continue to recover and mourn the loss of our neighbors, the Major Disaster Declaration approved by President Joe Biden will unlock federal funding for municipalities that took on extensive snow removal operations, repair damaged infrastructure, and support the families who tragically lost their loved ones.”

Representative Nick Langworthy said, “There is no question that the mass damage incurred by Winter Storm Elliott was worthy of a major storm declaration. I was proud to work with my colleagues across the aisle to fix this inequity and deliver much needed funding for this unprecedented and deadly storm. We can never recover the lives lost but I will always fight to ensure that our government has the backs of Western New Yorkers.”

Representative Nick LaLota said, “My constituents in Suffolk County are still feeling the impact of December’s storms and flooding. While there is still work to be done, this funding will help pay for repairs and cleanup efforts on damaged roads and bridges. I will always be committed to working with anyone who helps make the lives of Long Islanders easier.”

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “The Christmas blizzard dealt Erie County a ferocious blow but we are a resilient community that came together to face the storm. When I spoke to the President in my recent trip to Washington I briefed him on the significant costs of our storm response and cleanup, so to have him declare the blizzard as a Major Disaster is a tremendous help to all. I thank President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Gillibrand, Congressmen Higgins and Langworthy and Governor Hochul and her team for their support of and commitment to Erie County and WNY.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, "Long Island is no stranger to extreme weather events and this past December we saw a storm that battered our shorelines and lead to significant coastal erosion. I would like to thank both Governor Hochul and President Biden, along with our County Emergency Management team, for working to secure and provide the resources necessary to recover and rebuild from this storm."

Genesee County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein said, “Genesee County is very appreciative of all the efforts to achieve the Federal Major Disaster Declaration for our work and resources used during Blizzard Elliott. The opportunity of reimbursement for local businesses and government entities in their heroic handling of rescuing, housing and warming stranded folks is essential in our rural county. While we have the resources and know how, the costs to provide round the clock rescue operations is high. Recovering costs is vital to our agencies and businesses to be reimbursed to recover and rebuild capacity. Our volunteers, County staff members and community responders are the reason we had no loss of life in Genesee County during the blizzard. We are grateful for the federal recognition of their service towards others in a time of incredible need.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "The City of Buffalo has never before endured a storm quite like the Blizzard of 2022 and I thank President Biden and Governor Hochul for recognizing this. The FEMA Major Disaster Declaration unlocks funding that will allow the City to recoup costs and rebuild from storm related damage. We look forward to working with FEMA, as well as providing necessary resources to affected residents and businesses."

About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides leadership, coordination and support to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate disasters and other emergencies. For more information, find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Instagram, or visit our website.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
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