Two upstate New York members of Congress and the state's U.S. senators are urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reconsider requests from Cayuga and Monroe counties for assistance after Lake Ontario flooding affected communities along the shoreline this year.
U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer sent a letter to FEMA Administrator Brock Long urging him to add Cayuga County to the Lake Ontario flooding disaster declaration.
U.S. Reps. John Katko and Louise Slaughter wrote to Tom Von Essen, a FEMA regional administrator who oversees New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico, in support of any appeals submitted by New York on behalf of Cayuga and Monroe counties.
President Donald Trump approved disaster aid in November for six counties along Lake Ontario, but Cayuga and Monroe counties weren't included in the declaration. Katko, R-Camillus, and Slaughter, D-Fairport, said Cayuga and Monroe were left out of the declaration because damages didn't exceed the minimum threshold for each county.
The state is appealing FEMA's decision.
"The exclusion of both individual and public assistance for these two counties jeopardizes the recovery efforts for more than 800,000 of our constituents," Katko and Slaughter wrote. "These grants are essential for the continued operation of several localities along the shoreline as recovery efforts continue to incur high costs."
High lake levels impacted several communities along the shoreline. In Cayuga County, the village of Fair Haven had docks and homes affected by the flooding. Businesses close to the water were impacted, too.
The rejection of aid for Cayuga County appears to have been on technical grounds. Fair Haven Mayor Jim Basile said there was a "clerical error" that could have excluded damages at Fair Haven Beach State Park.
The state park damages should have been included in the county's request. Without those damages, the county doesn't meet its threshold for disaster aid.
Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Schumer, D-N.Y., asked FEMA to expedite the appeal due to the "significant negative impacts from the flooding event" that affected Cayuga and Monroe counties.
"Costs have continued to mount for the counties and timely FEMA federal assistance is vital in ensuring immediate repairs and long-term recovery for these communities," the senators wrote.