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FEMA denies flood aid for Oneida County; county exec pens letter blasting decision

Heavy rains caused flash flooding and power outages in Oneida County on July 1, 2017. Local officials have expressed disappointment in FEMA's decision to deny aid to the area for the damage caused. (Photo courtesy WKTV)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied a request by New York State and Oneida County to have a disaster declaration for flooding that happened in July, and local leaders aren't happy about it.

Heavy rains caused flash flooding and power outages in the county on July 1; photos and videos of cars almost entirely submerged by water went viral at the time. States of emergency were issued by several municipalities and many roads were impassable at the time.

FEMA officials said they determined the damage sustained from the flooding can be handled by local and state governments.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente disagrees. In a letter to the agency, Picente says the county identified nearly $10 million in damage within the county attributed to the floods and blasts the agency's decision to deny aid to the area in a letter the FEMA Administrator Brock Long.

"I find your decision to be horrendous and wholly bereft of common sense," Picente writes. "This flood event left hundreds of people with extensive damage to their homes, and in some cases it was so severe that they will never be able to return."

Picente adds that his county has earmarked $12 million for the next six years in addition to $250,000 for personal assistance and $500,000 for local municipalities, but says that isn't enough to address all of the damage.

If you're reading this article on the mobile app, click here to see Picente's letter.

Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R - NY 22), whose district includes Oneida County, said she believes FEMA should reconsider its decision.

“A federal disaster declaration would have gone a long way to help families and municipalities recover from this summer’s extreme weather and excessive flooding. I am deeply disappointed that FEMA has denied this request for federal assistance, and I will support an immediate appeal of this decision,” Congresswoman Claudia Tenney said in a release.

According to WKTV, state Senator Joe Griffo and Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi have also spoken out against FEMA's decision, urging the agency to give the application a second look.

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