Local Senators detail flood relief plan; call on President to allow full FEMA aid

Senators representing the Mohawk Valley are calling on the President to issue full FEMA aid to the communities most affected by the flooding disaster.

Senators David Valesky (D-Oneida), James L. Seward (R/C/I-Oneonta), Joseph A. Griffo (R/C/I-Rome), and Hugh T. Farley (R/C/I-Schenectady) have introduced a legislative plan that will help the state respond better and faster to future natural disasters.

The six-point plan includes:

1) The centerpiece of their legislation will be a New York state flood and emergency relief fund â??â??Funding Emergency Relief Nowâ?? (FERN) to assist New York property owners when FEMA or other funding is denied by the federal government;

2) A refundable state income tax credit against property taxes paid where homes and businesses have suffered damage that reduce their value (S. 6060A â?? 2012);

3) A state task force on flood prevention and mitigation with regional subcommittees to help communities plan and fund flood prevention measures on a regional basis. The task force would include representatives of the legislature, the state departments of Health, Environmental Conservation, Transportation, State, Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the National Guard, first responders, local government officials and local soil and water conservation districts with benchmarks and deadlines for action;

4) Enhanced funding through the environmental protection fund (EPF) for soil and water conservation districts to help local governments plan improved storm water drainage and flood prevention efforts;

5) National Guard directed and supported construction assistance in communities where flood mitigation measures have been identified;

6) Requiring a simplified and expedited reimbursement process for the state share of any reimbursable flood-related costs by local governments. Failure to process reimbursements to a local government within 60 days would trigger bonus payments to local governments to cover their cost of borrowing to cover funding shortfalls.

This plan is in response to the President, at the prompting of state officials, declaring a federal state of emergency, but only allocating funds to help rebuild infrastructure like bridges and roads, but not to help homeowners.

Senator David J. Valesky said, â??The governor has been a strong proponent for federal disaster assistance, and I urge him to continue his push for full FEMA benefits. In addition, New York needs to take appropriate steps to revamp the way we respond to natural disasters, particularly in rural areas. This package of legislation will help accomplish that goal.â??