A day after announcing the state will provide $16 million to homeowners, businesses and farmers in five of the 12 upstate counties declared disaster areas after recent severe flooding but denied federal aid, Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched an initiative to empower communities hit hard by storms the past two years to create and implement strategies to rebuild and strengthen themselves against future extreme weather.
“The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program will empower localities to develop and implement recovery plans after the damage done by the devastating natural disasters to hit our state over the past two years,” Cuomo said. “This program recognizes New York’s effort to build back better must be a two pronged approach with the state not only leading critical infrastructure and broad investment strategies, but also providing localities the resources they need to invest in their own future. When we are done, we will have risen to the challenge of making our great state not only more resistant to future storms, but stronger, more prosperous and more prepared for years to come.”
Cuomo said the program will assist 102 “severely damaged” communities develop rebuilding plans. The plans will be driven by the needs of each community and developed by regional planning committees of community leaders, experts and officials, he said.
Grant amounts will be based on Federal Emergency Management Agency assessed damage levels as well as applications for new infrastructure and other mitigation, and will be awarded once the community’s plan is submitted to the state for approval. The communities will be eligible to share in more than $500 million made available through federal supplemental appropriation Cuomo obtained from Congress earlier this year.
The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program includes $3 million in funding for Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery and Oneida counties.
That money is in addition to the $4 million for Herkimer and Montgomery counties and $3 million for Madison and Oneida counties the governor announced Wednesday as part of the Mohawk Valley and 2013 Upstate Flood Recovery Program.
“Under the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, Herkimer County can begin the rebuilding process by developing a plan that works for the community from the bottom up. The governor has proved to us we are not alone in this endeavor — we have the state and all of its citizens behind us. I thank the governor for his commitment to the Mohawk Valley,” said Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente thanked the governor for his leadership and partnership in rebuilding communities in Oneida County and the Mohawk Valley that were impacted by storms from the last few years, and most recently the last few weeks.
“By funding locally driven recovery plans, the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program will allow communities to implement reconstruction based on their own needs and resources. This means localities will have individualized plans that will more effectively protect them in the future,” he said.
Page 2 of 2 - “The town of Minden is grateful for Gov. Cuomo’s support and help following the devastation left by the recent flooding here in the Mohawk Valley. With the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program and an addition $3.25 billion in public and private funds, we can better protect our homes, businesses and infrastructure for the future. Not only will our region rebuild, but we will come back better and stronger,” said Minden Town Supervisor Tom Quackenbush.
Assemblyman Marc Butler, R – Newport, said he has talked to officials in the Mohawk Valley over the last few weeks and they recognize that as these flooding situations grow more frequent and more severe, they need to take immediate steps for long-term solutions to the problems that plague their communities.
“I believe the Build Back Better initiative can provide us with a structure and, more importantly, the funding that will be required to put those steps in place. I am looking forward to working with our local, county and state officials to formulate this much-needed plan and implement it as quickly as possible. I am prepared to offer my services to help coordinate the regional effort toward that end,” he said.
In addition, Cuomo announced the state will award at least $250 million of the state’s FEMA-funded hazard mitigation grant program to New York Rising Communities to implement eligible projects contained in their plans. After a presidential disaster declaration, as in the case of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Superstorm Sandy, FEMA provides funds for states to administer grants that support local hazard mitigation planning and long-term hazard mitigation measures to reduce the loss of life and damage to improved property from natural disasters. Eligible projects may include infrastructure or building improvements to protect communities from future natural disasters.
Thursday’s announcement came during a storm recovery conference the governor hosted in Albany to give New Yorkers the opportunity to help communities rebuild from catastrophic damage caused by major natural disasters over the past two years.
Experts from around the nation on topics such as economic development, resiliency, urban sustainability, environmental impact and engineering discussed strategies, solutions and lessons learned from past disaster recovery efforts with citizens and leaders of the New York Rising Communities to launch the rebuilding process.
The conference was the first step in the planning process, which Cuomo said will take eight months or less for each New York Rising Community.
He added the state will facilitate the communities’ planning process by helping each community’s planning committee set up a Facebook page devoted the process, conducting webinars to support use of technology to promote public comment and planning collaboration and creating a portal for planning committee members to interact and comment on documents and issues throughout the planning process.
“Within the last two years, New Yorkers have endured the worst that Mother Nature has dished out. Between Tropical Storm Lee, Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy, Winter Storm Nemo and the most recent, nameless, unrelenting rainstorms of June and July in the Mohawk Valley, we’ve been stretched to the limits of natural disaster recovery, relief and rebuilding. I commend the governor for inviting HUD Secretary (Shaun) Donovan to participate in this conference. Our goal should be to take what we learn about the challenges to planning long-term aid and turn it into a multi-faceted strategy that’ll help us face damaging natural events in the future,” said state Senator Joe Griffo, R – Rome.