Washington, DC (WBEN) Senator Chuck Schumer is calling on FEMA to approve a New York State Emergency Management request to pay out $1.2 million to Gowanda to help with repairs following the 2009 flooding.
“Although the federal government has reimbursed the Village of Gowanda for a portion of the damage incurred after the 2009 storm, I’m calling on FEMA to step up to the plate and finish the job,” said Schumer. “FEMA must do everything in its power to expedite federal funding to get Gowanda back on the road to recovery after this village suffered millions in infrastructure damage. Local residents and taxpayers can’t wait another moment for the federal government to help them get back on track since disaster struck Gowanda three years ago. I will continue to fight for the town until they receive the final reimbursement to cover the astronomical repair costs.”
While recognizing that FEMA has much to do post-Superstorm Sandy, Schumer underscored that the need to complete funding for Gowanda is now. Schumer continued, “All of the pieces are now in place, and we are well past the flood that precipitated the original damage. The bottom line is that FEMA needs to get Gowanda the money it needs and deserves without further delay.”
Schumer says Gowanda had to issue a bond anticipation note to pay for repairs to infrastructure. He notes Gowanda was declared eligible for federal public assistance funding, under which FEMA would cover up to 75 percent of the costs for eligible damages related to the storm, but the extended delay in receiving reimbursement for these expenses has forced Gowanda to continue to roll over their bonds in order to cover the costs.
A copy of Sen. Schumer’s letter appears below:
Dear Administrator Fugate:
I write today to follow up on my letter of March 25, 2012 to express my concern with FEMA’s delay of payments to the Village of Gowanda following the severe storms and flooding and subsequent Presidential Disaster Declaration of September 2009 (DR-1857); a delay that has cost the Village of Gowanda hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments.
Following the 2009 floods that devastated Gowanda, the village took out a bond anticipation note for roughly $5,000,000. While much of Gowanda’s costs have since been reimbursed by FEMA, including a recent reimbursement of approximately $190,000 for Village Hall records restoration, several project worksheets totaling approximately $1.2 million are still awaiting final review and payout approval. I understand that the New York State Office of Emergency Management (NYSOEM) submitted its request to FEMA for approval to release the remaining outstanding public assistance funding to Gowanda, and at this time I respectfully urge you to expedite the final review and payout of Gowanda’s outstanding project worksheets.
As I noted in my previous letter, rolling over the bond anticipation note in August of this year has cost the Village approximately $25,000. In addition, if they cannot have it fully paid off by August of 2013, they will be forced to convert the bond anticipation note to permanent borrowing. The Village estimates this will cost at least another $10,000. In a community with a population of just over 2,700, these costs are simply unacceptable. The floods that heavily damaged the area took place in 2009, nearly three years ago. Holding up these funds is preventing the village from moving forward and will place an unreasonable financial burden on this small community.
NYSOEM has submitted its request to FEMA for approval to release final payout to Gowanda, which includes extensive supporting documentation to substantiate damages resulting from the 2009 storm. The Village and NYSOEM have done their part, and now it is time for FEMA to honor its commitment to bring this community back to pre-disaster conditions by allowing NYSOEM to release final payment to Gowanda.