Emergency declaration from president for the 11 counties under governor's state of emergency provides access to federal funding for impacted counties to support response operations
√ State agency emergency response assets continue to assist local governments in cleanup and restoration efforts in wake of historic snowfall event
√ 80 inches of snow reported in Orchard Park, with peak snowfall accumulations of 6 inches per hour; parts of City of Buffalo & City of Lackawanna remain under travel ban
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced President Joe Biden approved her request for an emergency declaration for Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Lewis, Niagara, Oneida, Oswego, St. Lawrence and Wyoming counties, following the historic winter storm that buried some of New York's upstate communities with nearly 7 feet of snow this past week.
Under an emergency declaration, direct federal assistance is available for the previously listed counties. FEMA is authorized to provide emergency protective measures for the state that includes search and rescue operations, as well as actions to protect critical infrastructure such as roads and bridges, water control facilities, utilities, and mass transit facilities.
At Hochul's direction, state agencies' emergency response assets remain on the ground in affected areas of Western New York, Central New York and the North Country, assisting local governments with cleanup and restoration efforts.
"I thank President Biden for immediately granting our emergency declaration request and for our ongoing strong partnership, as well as Sen. (Chuck) Schumer for his assistance in securing relief for New Yorkers," Hochul said. "My team and I will continue working around the clock to keep everyone safe, help communities dig out, and secure every last dollar to help rebuild and recover from this unprecedented, record-shattering historic winter storm."
Over the weekend, Hochul submitted a request to the federal government for an emergency declaration, which was granted Sunday evening. The last time New York state submitted an emergency declaration request for a similar winter storm was in 2014, when it took weeks to grant the request.
An emergency declaration can be declared for any occasion or instance in which the president determines federal assistance is needed. These declarations supplement state and local efforts in providing emergency services, such as the protection of lives, property, public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the U.S.
Hochul will also ask the federal Small Business Administration to evaluate how it can help small businesses harmed by the storm in the 11 counties and contiguous counties, once state operations transition from response to recovery mode.
Hochul and New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) Commissioner Jackie Bray encouraged local officials in impacted counties to continue working with their county emergency managers to submit any resource needs directly into NY Responds, the state's web-based system that enables both local governments and state agencies to submit and share vital emergency-related information and resource requests.
Bray said, "Thanks to Gov. Hochul and President Biden, this emergency declaration will provide much-needed federal relief for local governments the state has been supporting since before the storm. My team and I will work directly with FEMA to maximize the impact of this funding to ensure our communities can return to normal."
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Office of Emergency Management and Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the Department of Transportation, New York State Police, Thruway Authority, and National Guard continue to be fully engaged in supporting local governments with response to the winter storm and snow removal and cleanup operations.
Prior to the arrival of lake effect snow on Thursday, Hochul declared a state of emergency for 11 counties and contiguous counties, which remains in effect. Additionally, New York's emergency management experts have been in constant communication with their local counterparts for days leading up to the event.
The winter storm that began Thursday impacted several regions of the state through Sunday, with 80 inches of snow reported in Orchard Park, and more than 6 feet of snow reported in parts of Erie and Jefferson counties. Throughout the storm, these areas experienced consistent snowfall rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour, and some seeing a peak of 6 inches of snowfall an hour. This intense snowfall created extremely dangerous travel conditions.
DHSES's disaster recovery team will immediately begin working with the 11 counties listed in the emergency declaration to maximize federal assistance.
Biden approves emergency declaration for New York
The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Monday announced President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for New York.
A press release said, “FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available to the state of New York to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts to the emergency conditions in the areas affected by a severe winter storm beginning Nov. 18, 2022, and continuing.
“The president's action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts, which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title 5 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, to save lives, protect property, public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe.
“This assistance is available for Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Jefferson, Lewis, Niagara, Oneida, Oswego, St. Lawrence and Wyoming counties.
“Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize and provide, at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, under the public assistance program, will be provided at 75% federal funding.”
Lai Sun Yee was named the federal coordinating officer for federal response operations in the affected areas.