Deploys Department of Financial Services to Help Homeowners Asses Damage Estimate and Complete Insurance Paperwork - DFS Will Be at Yonkers Public Library's Grinton I. Will Location
Governor Hochul: "As a result of my phone call to President Biden yesterday and also my emergency declaration submission we did get approval from the federal government and I'm very happy that that's going to bring in resources to help with the evacuation and shelter support. We're also working with FEMA and the White House and our delegation to assure that we get everything that New Yorkers need."
Hochul: "I've deployed our Department of Financial Services. ... I want them on the ground right here and they are at the Yonkers Library as we speak. ... Go on over there and have an assessment of your best estimate of the damage that has occurred, your property loss, and they'll sit down with you, help you fill out the paperwork and understand what you need to do."
Hochul: "This is a frightening experience. Homeowners who were just going about their everyday life two days ago now are figuring out how they get on with their lives and I want them to know all of my agencies have been deployed to help."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul provided an update on storm recovery efforts from Yonkers and announced New York State received federal approval for FEMA-assisted evacuation and shelter support.
AUDIO is available here.
PHOTOS will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good morning, everyone. This is a very sobering morning for me to come out to this community and to witness firsthand the ravages and devastation created by a storm the previous night before and to see people trying to clean off their cars and trying to scrape the mud off their front steps, and to see literally a backyard that is missing - it doesn't exist anymore. It's really heartbreaking to see what people have gone through.
I want to commend the neighbors for their positive attitude, their resilience. That sense that we can get through this together. But we're also cognizant of the families that cannot put their lives back together. Those who lost a loved one, swept away in a car when they simply thought they were going to the store or going home from work. People trapped in their basements, not able to escape. Those are the images that haut me in the aftermath of this storm. We keep every in our prayers. And I want to thank the incredible team we have here in Westchester County. I've worked with every one of them for years. Their hearts and souls are into making sure we get all the resources together, when the federal government, the state and locality. We're going to be in this together. We're going to be in it until the job is done, and what the job being done looks like is yes, cleaning up the streets, moving the cars, fixing people's homes and backyards, restoring our service on the Hudson line which is disrupted right now and if you had a chance to see what I saw you'd understand why there's 10 feet of mud covering the tracks.
So we have work to do. I do want to recognize the incredible individuals who have stepped up who are with me here today: Congressman Jamaal Bowman who is working very closely to make sure we get our resources out of Washington, great friend of ours; Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins who actually had to travel back from our important work in Albany in the storm and having to experience what many of her constituents had to endure which is a very frightening ride home that night; Senator Shelley Mayer who has been a fighter for this community for as long as I've known her and she cares deeply; Assemblymember Nader Sayegh is here as well and I want to thank him for his friendship and his work. We've all been in this together. We've gone to vaccination sites. We've got to do some fun out here sometime, my friends, because we've been here for some very serious issues fighting the pandemic, now fighting this horrific storm. Assemblymember Gary Pretlow is here as well; Mayor Mike Spano welcoming us here to your community and all the work that we're doing together.
Also from my team we have Major General Patrick Murphy, the commissioner of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. I've been on the job just over a week. I know that I have not slept and he has not slept and I want thank him for what he's done. Cathy Rinaldi here, representing Metro-North who can also answer any questions.
I'll just give an overall assessment, but let's start out with some positive news. As a result of my phone call to President Biden yesterday and also my emergency declaration submission we did get approval from the federal government and I'm very happy that that's going to bring in resources to help with the evacuation and shelter support. We're also working with FEMA and the White House and our delegation to assure that we get everything that New Yorkers need.
So this is just the beginning. We'll be making more announcements about the resources coming from the federal government.
As you know during the peak of the storm we lost power. Many people lost power. We still have about 7,800 people who are without power at this time. As you heard there are many rescues and I want to thank our New York State team working with local government for rescues. Our swift water teams were deployed, they're activated, they're on the ground, they're where they're needed to be literally rescuing over 100 people between Rockland County and Westchester in the previous night.
Deaths that have been confirmed would be 15. We had two right here in Westchester and there was an individual missing who has now been confirmed dead, and again, it's hard to even read those numbers because those numbers are people.
We have shelters that are open. We're serving people in Mamaroneck and Pelham. I'll be visiting Mamaroneck this afternoon or shortly after this and to see how those are operating, see whatever they need. Uninhabitable homes everywhere. This is something we have to deal with and make sure that people are taken care of. This is their hour of need. This is our hour to take action and be there for them and I promise we'll be there.
The road cleanup continues. This is not the worst road but you can already see what's happening. Some of these cars are immobilized because of the mud that filled the engines. I just talked to Krysta down the street and if you're there I'll give you a hand when I leave here. She had a big cleanup job to get her work done.
I also want to talk about some of the roads that are still closed, we have 11 full and partial road closures, the Bronx River Parkway, Sprain Brook Parkway, Saw Mill River Parkway, also some closures in Dutchess County, Orange and others in Rockland as well. Again, the Metro-North line is not in good shape right now. We're working tirelessly and I've had a chance to go out and talk to the transit workers, the people who are working tirelessly to try to restore the service and they have done successfully in most of the lines. But this is one as you can witness, is just one that's not going happen very quickly because of the damage we have sustained.
So where do we go from here? I've dealt with many, many, many disasters. I was a local official for 14 years, a place call Western New York, Buffalo. So I dealt with seven feet of snow in a 24-hour period, I've dealt with massive flooding on the Great Lakes, I sandbagged a lot of houses myself, so I know what it takes.
And the first part you do is you survive, you get through the episodic event. Then you show up. We've been showing up and I was in Queens yesterday, Long Island and I'll be in Staten Island after I leave Westchester. It's about letting the people on the ground now, people like Annie and her neighbors, the Santos, let them know that we're not forgetting them. I want to look them in their eye and say, you will not be forgotten and this is not just about us coming here to do a nice press conference. This is about what happens tomorrow and the day after and the day after. That is my commitment to you. My entire team will be dedicated to restoring your life as normal as we can make it and to keep you in our prayers, but also we'll help you.
So the next day after, the morning after, we're here on the ground. There are FEMA teams embedded with our teams throughout this region, the 14 counties that were affected, but we know primarily where the crisis has occurred, mostly Westchester, Rockland, and the boroughs as well as Long Island. They're embedded to do damage assessments. We actually need real numbers to submit to the federal government to meet the threshold of $30 million. That will not be a problem. We are well in excess of $30 million of damage throughout this region, and then we start getting help on the ground.
I've deployed our Department of Financial Services. What do they have to do with this? That's the insurance, my friends. I want them on the ground right here and they are at the Yonkers Library as we speak. They'll be open until 5 o'clock today. Go on over there and have an assessment of your best estimate of the damage that has occurred, your property loss, and they'll sit down with you, help you fill out the paperwork and understand what you need to do. We're going to be that hands on. This is a frightening experience. Homeowners who were just going about their everyday life two days ago now are figuring out how they get on with their lives and I want them to know all of my agencies have been deployed to help, so that will be on the ground. I will be sending them throughout the region to help people fill out proper paperwork.
I think that's all I have in terms of where we are right now. But long term, some people called this a 500-year event. I don't buy it because I was up on Lake Ontario when in 2017 we had what was known as a 100-year event. It happened 2 years again later. So I don't buy that. It happens and we have to be prepared for it so no longer will we say, yeah, that won't happen again in our lifetime.
This could literally happen next week. We talk about the rainfall records that were broken, Central Park for example, it broke a record that was set the week before and almost doubled it. That's how the scale is going forward and we have to be prepared for that.
I'm going to be convening a task force of individuals who will do an after-action report to me. I've insisted on this already and I want to know exactly what we did right. If we did it right, we'll keep doing it right. If there were any areas that were shortcomings I want to know what they are and how we address them, and for those who live in New York City in particular, it's about building more resiliency around those subways. I don't ever want to again see Niagara Falls rushing down the stairs in one of the New York City subways. I can't prevent it right now but I know we have to take action to mitigate that and something as simple as building up the resiliency in our drainage systems in those immediate areas, so when the waters come down and the heavens open up and the floodings begin, if they can actually handle the volume so it doesn't end up overflowing into the subways.
It's a different dynamic than the storm resiliency. After Sandy we built up our shoreline. We're far better off than we had been but this is different than wave action. This is coming from the heavens. It's coming down and it's coming down in unprecedented amounts and that's what we have to be ready for. So that takes partnership with the federal government, getting the infrastructure bill through that President Biden and Senator Schumer and Congressman Bowman and others are fighting for. Let's get that done, but that's longer term, and in the short term we are going to take care of the people right here on the ground. I want to thank everyone for joining me here today.