Trump issues disaster declaration on Storm Stella, so funds can flow

Enterprise file photo — Melissa Hale-Spencer
Record snowfall rates were noted for Storm Stella last March. Altamont, shown here on March 15, is requesting about $8,000 in reimbursement for the cost of clearing the snow.

ALBANY COUNTY — President Donald J. Trump approved a major- disaster declaration on Wednesday that will allow municipalities in 28 counties across New York State, including Albany County, to get reimbursed for money they spent coping with Winter Storm Stella last March 14 and 15.

State and local governments had more than $31.4 million in response costs and infrastructure damage validated as a result of the storm, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, surpassing the $27 million damage threshold the state needed to get the presidential declaration. Assistance includes funding for emergency protective measures, debris removal, and repairs to public infrastructure.

In May, The Enterprise reported that Albany County had already reached its threshold of a little over $1 million, and surveyed local towns on their expenses. Most of the local municipalities and school districts requested funds to reimburse them for overtime pay and equipment used for clearing snow:

— The Berne-Knox-Westerlo School District estimated its storm costs at about $11,000;

— The Voorheesville district requested just over $1,800;

— The Guilderland district was requesting between $3,000 and $5,000;

— Knox submitted for about $21,000;

— Berne requested $16,000;

— Westerlo requested just under $26,000;

— Rensselaerville submitted a little under $21,000;

— New Scotland requested just over $34,000;

— Guilderland requested about $146,000;

— Voorheesville requested about $9,300; and

— Altamont submitted for about $8,000.

“This is a collection process; it’s not an application,” Kristin DeVoe, a spokeswoman for the New York State division of Homeland Security and Emergency services, told The Enterprise in May.

Application procedures for state, tribal, and local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings, according to a release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency; locations will be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Seamus K. Leary has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer.

Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.

The 28 counties covered by the disaster declaration are: Albany, Broome, Chenango, Clinton, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Orleans, Otsego, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, and Ulster counties.

According to the National Weather Service, record or near record snowfall rates were recorded during the storm. Three people died in the storm. The heavy wet snow and strong winds downed thousands of trees, causing more than 17,000 power outages affecting tens of thousands of New Yorkers, according to a release from the governor’s office.

The governor declared a state of emergency on March 14, and states of emergency were also declared by 40 local governments. Cuomo requested technical assistance in the form of a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment, which was conducted between March 30 and May 23, validating state and county expenditures of more than $31.4 million in response and recovery efforts.

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