Albany, NY – Governor George Pataki Tuesday announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved his request to expand federal snow emergency assistance for Erie and Niagara counties to help pay the costs of dealing with the recent severe snowstorms that hit the region.
FEMA has granted the Governor's request to extend the time period allowed for reimbursement of snow removal operations and critical emergency needs from 48 hours to 120 hours and to lift the $5 million funding cap.
Under the amended emergency declaration, FEMA will provide 75 percent reimbursement to the state and local governments in the declared counties for eligible snow removal activities and emergency measures -- equipment, contracting and personnel overtime -- during a 120-hour period.
"The people of Western New York have suffered through a snowstorm of extraordinary proportions." FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh said.
"The people of Erie County will be made as close to whole as possible with this announcement," Erie County Executive Joel Giambra said.
"This was the absolute right thing to do," Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello said. "We appreciate that both Governor Pataki and FEMA understand the extent of the challenges we have faced in this snow emergency."
The storm began on Christmas Eve and continued in the City of Buffalo and surrounding suburbs for the next five days. By week's end, 81.6 inches of snow -- a new record for one month -- had fallen.
On December 28, Governor Pataki declared a State of Emergency for Erie County, including the City of Buffalo and contiguous counties, allowing him to mobilize all available State resources including elements of the New York Army National Guard.
"New York State will continue to do everything possible to our friends and neighbors in Western New York recover from this record-breaking snowfall," Pataki said.