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A picture of Grand Island during the holiday blizzard. (Photo by Alice Gerard)
A picture of Grand Island during the holiday blizzard. (Photo by Alice Gerard)

Biden approves major disaster declaration for New York

Submitted + UPDATED

Thu, Mar 16th 2023 11:05 am

The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday announced federal disaster assistance has been made available to the state of New York to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by a severe winter storm and snowstorm that occurred Dec. 23-28, 2022. The request was approved by President Joe Biden.

The president's action makes federal funding in the form of funeral assistance available to affected individuals in Erie and Niagara counties. Local and state officials will work together with FEMA to identify those who have incurred funeral related expenses as a result of this weather event.

Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe winter storm and snowstorm in Erie, Genesee, Niagara, St. Lawrence and Suffolk counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Lai Sun Yee has been named the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas. Additional designations may be made at a later date if warranted by the results of damage assessments.


"New Yorkers are still recovering from the devastating storm over the holidays that impacted communities across the state, causing flooding on Long Island and a record-breaking, deadly blizzard in my hometown of Buffalo," Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "I'm thankful President Biden and FEMA Administrator Criswell approved my request for a major disaster declaration, which will provide much-needed assistance to the hardest-hit communities and help them recover."

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray said, "This was a devastating storm for the Western New York community, and brought significant impacts and damage across the entire state. Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Hochul and the support of our federal partners, DHSES will administer this critical funding and continue to support New Yorkers and local governments impacted by this storm."

A major disaster declaration for the late December storm builds upon federal assistance already secured by Hochul through a Dec. 26 federal emergency declaration that supported response and rescue operations throughout the six-day event.

Last month, Hochul also announced the U.S. Small Business Administration is now offering federal assistance to residents and businesses in Western New York that were impacted by the blizzard. The SBA currently has an in-person disaster loan outreach center open in the City of Buffalo through March 24, located at the Delavan Grider Community Center, 877 E. Delavan Ave. The site is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Congressman Brian Higgins said, "The December blizzard was unlike anything the Western New York community has experienced. As we continue to recover and mourn the loss of our neighbors, the major disaster declaration approved by President Joe Biden will unlock federal funding for municipalities that took on extensive snow removal operations, repair damaged infrastructure, and support the families who tragically lost their loved ones."

Congressman Nick Langworthy said, "There is no question that the mass damage incurred by Winter Storm Elliott was worthy of a major storm declaration. I was proud to work with my colleagues across the aisle to fix this inequity and deliver much-needed funding for this unprecedented and deadly storm. We can never recover the lives lost, but I will always fight to ensure that our government has the backs of Western New Yorkers."

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "The Christmas blizzard dealt Erie County a ferocious blow, but we are a resilient community that came together to face the storm. When I spoke to the president in my recent trip to Washington, I briefed him on the significant costs of our storm response and cleanup; so, to have him declare the blizzard as a major disaster is a tremendous help to all. I thank President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Sen. Gillibrand, congressmen Higgins and Langworthy and Gov. Hochul and her team for their support of and commitment to Erie County and WNY."

City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "The City of Buffalo has never before endured a storm quite like the blizzard of 2022, and I thank President Biden and Gov. Hochul for recognizing this. The FEMA major disaster declaration unlocks funding that will allow the city to recoup costs and rebuild from storm-related damage. We look forward to working with FEMA, as well as providing necessary resources to affected residents and businesses."

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