Picente rails at FEMA appeal denial

Published Feb 22, 2018 at 4:00pm

A federal agency has denied an appeal of a prior decision not to provide financial aid to the state following flooding and heavy rains last summer, prompting further protests by County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr.

Picente, in a letter Wednesday to Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long, said the appeal denial has “once again proven me right” regarding Picente previously calling FEMA’s initial decision “horrendous and wholly bereft of common sense.”

​“I believe you and the FEMA administrators before you have taken a parochial view of weather events in the northeastern part of the United States,” Picente’s letter said. “The events we face apparently don’t fit your criteria, yet our local damage continues to surpass our FEMA threshold tenfold and Oneida County is the only one paying the bill.”

​The county identified nearly $10 million in damages pertaining to flooding last July, Picente said. The county has committed $12 million over the next six years for long-term flood mitigation, he noted. He added “our FEMA threshold is $800,000.”

New York State on Jan. 2 had appealed to FEMA for a major disaster declaration for the state as a result of severe storms, tornadoes and flooding from last June 30-July 24, noting 15 counties in the appeal.

Long, in a Jan. 26 letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said a review has reaffirmed “our original findings that the damage identified in your request resulted from separate and distinct events, none of which were of the severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.”

Picente’s letter to Long recommended “backing out my community’s share of the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund’s $6.159 billion price tag...and let us use that money to deal with natural disasters here at home....”