After Hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Irene walloped New York State with devastating flooding, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for expedited federal aid, sending a letter to the White House, "I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments, and that supplementary federal assistance is necessary." Now President Obama has answered with an official disaster declaration. Here's what it says:
The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of New York and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by Hurricane Irene beginning on August 26, 2011, and continuing.
The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Ulster.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Irene in the counties of Albany, Bronx, Clinton, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Nassau, New York, Queens, Rensselaer, Richmond, Rockland, Schoharie, Suffolk, Ulster, Warren, and Westchester.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Philip E. Parr as the Federal Coordinating Officer for Federal recovery operations in the affected area.
FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and additional counties may be designated for assistance after the assessments are fully completed.
FEMA said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.