ALBANY, N.Y. -- Of the $12 million the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved to reimburse New York communities for April nor'easter damage repairs, about $2.4 million of that is to rebuild infrastructure to a higher standard.
This effort is known as mitigation - an effort to break the cycle of damage and repair and reduce repetitive losses.
President Bush signed a major disaster declaration for 14 New York counties as a result of the April 2007 nor'easter. Thirteen counties were declared for the Public Assistance (PA) Program.
The PA program reimburses local governments and certain nonprofits for eligible disaster-related costs for debris removal, emergency protective measures and repair or restoration of public infrastructure.
FEMA provides 75 percent of the grant funding. The 25 percent non-federal share is funded by the state. The New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) administers the program.
Generally, the PA program restores disaster damaged infrastructure to pre-disaster conditions. However, where it is cost effective and technically feasible, additional funding can be approved to restore the facility to a higher standard and make it more disaster resistant.
Examples of such projects follow:
- Westchester County's Oak Street pump station electrical controls were damaged by flood waters. An additional $29,556 in PA mitigation funding was added to the cost of electrical controls replacement to install a water-tight entrance door to reduce the chance of additional flooding interruptions of pump station operations in the future. Total project cost is $167,539.
- The Rockland County Village of Suffern's Lonegran Park borders the Mahwah River. Flood waters eroded 310 feet of the park's river embankment, threatening loss of a playground and basketball court. An additional $17, 200 in PA mitigation funds will be added to pay for geotextile bedding and heavy stone rip rap that will make the fill materials to replace the eroded area more disaster resistant. Total project cost is $121,553.
- Flood waters eroded about 4,000 feet of road shoulders and drainage ditches of West Peenpack Trail in Orange County's Town of Deerpark. An additional $10,000 in PA mitigation funding to repair the damages will provide measures to relieve potential sheet flow down the road and reduce chance of future culvert, road shoulder and road surface washouts. Total project cost is $164,000.
"By adding mitigation money to repair costs, our goal is to make the project better able to withstand future disasters of a similar nature," said FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer Marianne C. Jackson. "Extra money spent now can reduce future impacts and costs."
Nearly 1,500 projects have been qualified for public assistance. About 21 percent qualified for additional mitigation funding. Experts from FEMA and the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) will further refine that list to identify those select projects that will qualify for the special mitigation program.
Counties eligible for public assistance are Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Schoharie, Ulster, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.