Governor Hochul: "We're expanding the emergency declaration to Rockland, Clinton and Essex Counties, as well as Oswego. Oswego County is sustaining a flash flooding event as we speak. They're under a flash flood watch. They had an enormous amount of rain, three inches in 90 minutes just a few hours ago, so the water is accumulating in other places as well."
Hochul: "If you're living in these flash flood watch areas, Oswego County in particular, please do not go out in your vehicles. This is the number one cause of death of people during high flooding events...That's how we lose the lives of individuals. We want to make sure people are smart, that they do not go out in those circumstances and head all the warnings."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul provided an update on the storms causing extreme flooding across New York State.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks are available below:
Good afternoon, everyone, it is certainly a little bit drier here in Ontario County than it was at this time yesterday. But we are still experiencing the effects of a 100-year flooding event. And literally just as I left the street on Chapin, we just received word that one of the houses I visited was one where the basement just collapsed. So, it is still a dangerous situation. There are still people in these homes. And the buildings that they are in are actually compromised because of the volume of flooding that has occurred.
So, I am here standing with a heart full of gratitude to the first responders, the Canandaigua Fire Department, who has done an extraordinary job at helping manage this crisis. They have been there for their neighbors, we have seen it on the streets, but also the mutual aid that has come through literally on the street I just described - we were looking and speaking to members of the Gates Fire Department. So, this has been a region wide response.
I also want to thank my team at the State level. Commissioner Jackie Bray was contacting county leaders even before the first rain fell to let them know that we are deploying resources in advance. That's how you deal with a storm of this magnitude. You prepare in advance, you deploy resources, and thank God we had swift water rescue teams deployed right here in advance of this storm because they literally were involved in rescuing many, many lives. And I just spoke to some families whose children were picked up and rescued last night.
So, this is an evolving event. It seems like the worst has passed in terms of the volume coming down. But now our job is to make sure that the roads and the bridges are passable, that they have not been structurally compromised because that could also lead to a dangerous situation. So, the 48 hours we just came through have been extraordinary.
Ontario County is still under a State of Emergency, I declared this yesterday as did the County Administrator. And what we are doing around the State, assessing the damage. I just came up from Orange County where I have no doubt that we will meet the threshold of almost $37 million dollars in statewide damage in order to be eligible for FEMA money. We will also receive an allocation for this county once all of the receipts have been generated from the local public officials. And that's what I'm appreciating them working on as we speak.
I've been in contact with everybody from the White House, the Secretary of Transportation, the Head of FEMA, our Senators, Gillibrand and Senator Majority Leader Schumer have also been in contact with us to offer any assistance with the FEMA declaration, which would be really important for us to get the money to the state, but also to the localities so they can start rebuilding. We're expanding the emergency declaration to Rockland, Clinton and Essex Counties, as well as Oswego. Oswego County is sustaining a flash flooding event as we speak. They're under a flash flood watch. They had an enormous amount of rain, three inches in 90 minutes just a few hours ago, so the water is accumulating in other places as well.
But here, I'm just really proud of the response of the local team. I had a chance to speak last night to the Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Todd Campbell, who was on the ground, neighboring, representing a neighboring community, West Bloomfield. Our county manager, Chris DeBolt, again, very responsive, used to working with teams across the state, and they've given such mutual aid to other areas that now they're in a place where they're able to accept that kind of assistance as well.
The Sheriff has done an am'zing job as well. I know his teams have been involved' Sheriff Dave Cirencione, and also our leaders from the State level. I'm really grateful to have such strong partners with Senator Pam Helming, who's been on the ground, dealing with this crisis firsthand from the very first minutes. And Assemblymember Jeff Gallahan, who's new on the job, but experienced in terms of having to deal with a response like this.
Our Supervisor, Jared Simpson from Canandaigua, Mayor Bob Palumbo and I just had a chance to get a briefing from our Fire Chief here, Magnera, who told us what's been going on here. This is over a 200-year-old fire company. 200 years in 2016, and you think about the scale of this event. This is something that people train for, they're ready for, but rarely do they have to activate. But last night, they stepped up and we talked about the fact that no lives were lost. This could have been a cataclysmic event. But for the response, the coordination at the state, county, and local levels, and I'm grateful to all the first responders who were there for us.
Let's get down to some specifics. As I mentioned, I was in Chapin Street and we had our state teams evacuate: 13 people, five pets, including a family with two children and a dog named Luca. They're unable to evacuate their home. I went to another home on Chapin. The parents described what it was like when the first responders arrived at their home, literally picked up their children, carried them out into the water that was almost up to their waist and the fear that they spoke of, but the relief when they saw these individuals come there and be able to literally give them a lifeline and take them out of harm's way to safety.
So, that is what has been going on the ground. We're no longer seeing flooding, but again, the basements have been compromised. We have to make sure that people on the higher floors are aware that there could be a collapsed situation, which is what we just heard about on Chapin on a call that came in moments ago here.
Some of the roads and bridges are currently closed, West Gibson in the City of Canandaigua. You can see additional route closures as our continued cleanup efforts are underway.
In terms of houses without power. Fortunately again, we deployed utility crews in advance of the storm, which was the way you can be more prospective and instead of reactive in a situation like this because when it's raining and it's dark, people are without their power. It is a frightening situation, especially for parents with little kids. So we have about 600 families in Ontario County as we speak, about 2000 statewide, but the power is rapidly returning. At one point it was over 13,000 homes without power, and now there's many more that have had that power restored.
Our office of Parks and Recreation, as well as State Police, literally went door to door last night. And they went to over 120 homes, moving 13 people and five pets to safety, as I mentioned before. So, the Emergency Operations Center, you had a briefing earlier today, they've been activated.
Our State Police teams, our emergency operations, our DOT teams are all embedded in the local emergency operations. So there's an incredible synergy, a real time response to wherever the needs may be. Still experiencing again, issues around the rest of the state. We'll continue to give live updates and updates to the rest of the State.
But again, if you're living in these flash flood watch areas, Oswego County in particular, please do not go out in your vehicles. This is the number one cause of death of people during high flooding events. Flash flooding events it is not what's happening in your home. It's what's happening when you think that your vehicle and you can make your way through the on water on a street, and all of a sudden it turns from a roadway with some puddles on it to a raging river.
That's how we lose the lives of individuals. We want to make sure people are smart, that they do not go out in those circumstances and head all the warnings. So obviously you can hear the emergency crews here. Everybody's still working hard, but happy to take any questions.