Congressman Tim Bishop hailed the designation of the February blizzard as a federal disaster for Suffolk County, cleaning the way for municipalities on the South Fork to access federal funding to offset storm response and recovery costs.
Bishop wrote a letter on April 15 to Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate urging approval of the blizzard as a federal disaster due to the extraordinary snowfall that “compound damage caused by Superstorm Sandy as well as subsequent nor’easters and snow storms earlier this year,” wrote Bishop in his letter.
The declaration makes Suffolk County and municipal governments in the county eligible to apply for reimbursements for disaster related damages under FEMA’s Public Assistance program. The public assistance program reimburses local governments for eligible damages and costs for debris removal, emergency protective measures and for the repair of public infrastructure. FEMA funds 75 percent of the projected costs; the remaining 25 percent is funded by the local government.
According to Suffolk County Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services, the county has preliminarily complied claims related to the storm totaling more than $18 million, with approximately $3.6 million in costs to Suffolk County Department of Public Works.
“I applaud the decision to speed clearly needed federal relief to Long Island for the effects of this devastating blizzard,” said Bishop in a press release issued last week. “This was a particularly challenging event, but our area is especially vulnerable to severe winter storms and I will continue to fight for our fair share of federal help when disaster strikes.”