Emergency declaration put wheels in motion
When Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday announced that President Joe Biden has approved an emergency disaster declaration for New York after the devastation caused by Tropical Depression Ida, many Brooklynites and other New Yorkers wondered what such a declaration meant.
Brooklyn (Kings County) is one of the counties covered by the declaration, as well as Bronx, Dutchess, Nassau, New York (Manhattan), Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester.
Under an emergency declaration, up to $5 million in immediate federal funding is made available to impacted counties to support ongoing response and rescue operations prior to issuance of a traditional Major Disaster Declaration.
FEMA is now working with the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, as well as local partners, to begin an expedited damage assessment process, which is required for a major disaster declaration.
This isn’t the first time FEMA has been involved in Brooklyn, by any means.
For example, in September 2020, Maimonides Medical Center received $17 million in FEMA emergency funds to combat financial challenges brought on by the coronavirus, such as the cost of overtime hours, the cost of increased clinical staffing and testing costs.
After Superstorm Sandy walloped parts of Brooklyn in 2012, especially near the water’s edge, FEMA committed $1.6 billion to repair and protect four public hospitals, including Coney Island Hospital, granted $3 billion to NYCHA to rebuild damaged housing, and created a free home-elevation certificate program in Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods.
And after an unusual tornado that hit Bay Ridge and Sunset Park in 2007, local residents became eligible for FEMA homeowner assistant grants, which helped applicants with temporary housing, to pay for damaged items, and for medical and storage expenses.
“I will continue to urge the federal government to expedite the damage assessment process to provide all the federal resources available to ensure New Yorkers get what they need to recover from this historic storm,” Hochul said. “We are committed to providing all the necessary resources for New Yorkers to recover from the historic, devastating flooding, and I have directed all state agencies on the ground to continue to help these impacted areas with cleanup missions.”
State agencies are also heavily involved in cleanup and response efforts:
Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
DHSES continues to coordinate with our partner agencies at the local, state and federal level in response efforts. The State Emergency Operations Center is active and remains engaged with state agencies involved in clean-up missions.
Using unmanned aircraft systems (drones) and other technology, Department of Environmental Conservation officer and other personnel continue to assess storm impacts in Ida’s wake, including potential damage to wastewater
New York’s utilities have approximately 6,000 workers available to engage in damage assessment, response, repair and restoration efforts across the state. The Department of Public Service’s staff continues to track the utilities’ work throughout the storm restoration and will ensure utilities shift the appropriate staffing to the regions impacted the most. NYS experienced an incident peak of 52,000 electric customer outages at 3 a.m. on Thursday, and as of the end of last week, only 7,900 customers, mostly in Westchester, remained without power.
The State Department of Transportation is responding to the storm with more than 3,150 supervisors and operators available statewide. More than 60 state roads across the state, including all state highways in New York City, had already reopened as of Friday.