Gov. Cuomo â??not overly optimisticâ?? about a federal disaster declaration for flood relief

Flooding in Clinton / June 28

Itâ??s been eight days since Governor Andrew Cuomo requested that President Barack Obama issue a major disaster declaration for the state of New York following the severe storms and major flooding that swept through Central New York.

Jim Rinaldo doesn't know if his house in Oneida can be saved but he has spent every day since the floods cleaning it. Rinaldo is hoping a FEMA grant will be enough to repair his buckled floor and damaged foundation - but he has now way of finding out what assistance he could be eligible for because FEMA still has not sent a disaster declaration to the White House.

"Can't even sleep at night. You lay there at night worry about what's going to happen - are we going to get help? are we not going to get help? It really is, I think, most people's biggest concern right now," said Rinaldo.

Senator Charles Schumer's office said FEMA is still finishing its assessment of flooding damage. Schumer has been pushing the agency to issue a disaster declaration for the past week. Frustration among Oneida neighbors is building and many say they are tired of waiting for answers. On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York State may need to provide help.

"At this point I am not overly optimistic. What I have said is I want to try to get the federal funds first. I believe we should qualify for the federal funds," said Cuomo. "And I want to advocate for the federal funds because the state doesnâ??t have this kind of money either, but whatever happens, we're not going to leave the homeowners on their own."

Cuomo said Monday that he'll call the state Legislature back to address recent flooding if the federal government declines to issue a disaster declaration and send federal aid to the area. He says owners of about 150 homes with significant damage need help, local governments need money for rebuilding roads and culverts.

Jim Rinaldo says he and many of his Oneida neighbors are stuck in limbo - working on their homes but not knowing if they will ever be able to spend another night in them.

"At least give us some reliable information so we know what's going on. that's the way I look at it," said Rinaldo.

Floodwaters first swept through eastern portions of Central New York on Friday, June 28 flooding towns in Madison County, Herkimer County, Oneida County, and Chenango County.