January 3, 2020
Picente Denounces FEMA Denial; Writes President Trump
Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. has released a stament in regards to FEMA's decsion to deny individual assistance to the vicitms of the Halloween flooding in Oneida County:
"I am angry and disappointed in FEMA’s decision to deny individual assistance and I request Governor Cuomo immediately appeal its decision. Time and time again, I have asked FEMA to reconsider its draconian thresholds and criteria to fund individual assistance to our residents who are suffering through no fault of their own and those requests are continuously ignored.
"Every time we have had weather-related emergencies I have shown Oneida County is ready and willing to assist our people. We have allocated tens of millions of dollars in individual assistance, municipal clean-up and long-term mitigation efforts. We have marshaled our government personnel and resources to assist during emergencies. We expect the federal government and the state to do the same when it comes to getting monetary assistance into the hands of residents who are suffering."
County Executive Picente also has written a letter to President Trump and members of Congress expressing his displeasure:
January 3, 2020
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Trump,
On October 31, 2019, the County of Oneida in the State of New York suffered what was most likely the worst flood in its history. Our residents experienced unprecedented damage and loss and many will never be able to recover from the devastation. When all was said and done, more than 1,100 homes were severely damaged.
Over the past decade, we have experienced a half dozen 100-year-level floods and many of the victims of October’s event have had to endure the same hardships over and over. As a county, we have come to their aid time and time again, allocating tens of millions of dollars to provide financial assistance to home owners, business owners and municipalities and to fund flood mitigation projects. We have deployed personnel and resources to assist in clean-up efforts and set up disaster relief centers to provide county services, supplies, and food and shelter. And each of these times, we have been left to stand alone, abandoned by our federal government.
While FEMA did see fit in this instance to grant public assistance for the damages incurred by our municipal infrastructure, we have once again been denied the individual assistance our residents so desperately need. These are people who have been dealt setback after setback and are at the ends of their ropes. Many are desperate to be set free from their plight and were counting on this federal funding to come through and remove the heavy burden of these uninhabitable and unsellable homes once and for all.
This denial is unacceptable. If the destruction left in the wake of this most recent flooding is not enough to finally elicit help from the federal government, then I am truly at a loss. I have written you before about the unfairness of the constant unmet thresholds of our small Upstate New York communities that are forced to endure weather disasters in solidarity. And even when the thresholds are met, the money takes years to arrive or doesn’t arrive at all because of the bureaucratic nightmare that is Washington.
Once again, I’m asking you to consider ways to declare emergencies eligible for federal funding on a county-by-county basis so that dollars can flow to local governments that have the knowledge, ability and willingness to actually deal with the problems and get it into the hands of those who need it the most.
Even though these pleas have been continually shunned, I will not stop fighting for the people of this community and doing everything within my power to come to their aid. I sincerely hope that one day our federal government will finally throw us a lifeline.
Anthony J. Picente Jr.
Oneida County Executive