Picente blasts FEMA rejection with letter; Tenney urges state to appeal

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A federal agency’s denial of financial aid following flooding and heavy rains in Oneida County this summer has resulted in two officials firing off letters.

Calling the decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency “horrendous,” County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. wrote a letter of complaint to its administrator, Brock Long.

“I find your decision to be horrendous and wholly bereft of common sense,” declared the county official. “This flood event left hundreds of people with extensive damage to their homes, and in some cases it was so severe that they will never be able to return.”

Separately, Rep. Claudia L. Tenney, R-22, New Hartford, has sent a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, urging the state’s top executive to immediately appeal the decision. She pledged to work with the governor “to ensure that this decision is reversed.”

The congresswoman said she will send a letter to Long expressing her support for the state’s “anticipated appeal.”

On Wednesday, FEMA rejected the state’s application for a major disaster declaration for 15 upstate counties impacted by wind, heavy rain and flooding in June and July. Parts of Oneida County were drenched by rain and flooding July 1. Picente says Oneida County alone suffered $10 million worth of damages.

The letters are in addition to the displeasure voiced by several public officials as news of the denial spread.

​Both Picente and Tenney want FEMA’s boss to visit Oneida County to tour damaged areas.

“In your letter you also point out the weather event is not beyond the capabilities of the local and state government to deal with,” wrote Picente to Long. “You should know that Oneida County government has committed $250,000 in personal assistance to those affected and it isn’t enough. You should also be aware that we have assisted local municipalities with $500,000 for cleanup and repair, and that isn’t enough.

“County government also has committed $12 million over the next six years for long-term flood mitigation projects, and once again, it isn’t enough. I welcome the opportunity to explain this to you in person when you come here to justify your decision to my community.”

“At the end of the day, what communities around New York state and the country are realizing is our federal representatives and federal government are too busy with politics and partisanship to accomplish anything of merit,” he said. “To that end, I will continue to do what I have done as a county executive, solve problems the federal government is either too incompetent or too unwilling to solve.”

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