When unusually heavy rains swept through parts of Cayuga County last summer, the deluge caused millions of dollars in damage to roads, culverts and other property. Those bills haven't gone away, and our representatives in Washington need to continue persisting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency help pay them.
After being denied a major disaster declaration covering Cayuga and 14 other affected counties, state officials appealed to FEMA, arguing that the state had suffered losses of more than $30 million. But in denying the appeal, FEMA said that the state didn't meet the standard for a disaster. For one thing, local officials said, FEMA said it is unable to approve a disaster based on a total amount of damage from multiple storm events.
Cayuga County officials say that shouldn't apply in this case, and they point to multiple past incidences where federal aid was awarded when groups of storms were combined into a single disaster declaration.
In Cayuga County, the total damage was about $4 million — $1 million of that in Moravia alone. Cayuga County Legislator Keith Batman said that even though there is no formal route to appeal a second time, that doesn't mean the county should stop fighting, so he's calling on our representatives in Washington to apply pressure.
We agree that a "No" answer from FEMA shouldn't be the end of the conversation and that federal assistance needs to be aggressively pursued, especially if this denial flies in the face of past practices. To that end, we implore Rep. John Katko and U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to do whatever they can to get this decision overturned.
The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.