'Snovember' storm declared a federal disaster

Dec 23, 2014

FEMA has officially declared parts of Western New York a "major disaster" following last month's massive snowstorm.

Gov.Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that disaster aid has been made available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for six counties in Western New York, including Erie, Genesee, Wyoming, Orleans, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus. 

November's massive winter storm dumped more than seven feet of snow on parts of the region.
Credit File photo

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says he is pleased President Obama signed the declaration.

"I'm hopeful we get as close to full reimbursement as possible," Poloncarz told WBFO. "I don't anticipate getting a full amount back."

Poloncarz says Erie County alone incurred at least $8.3 million in costs related to the response and clean-up of the storm. He says local officials must now prove the storm cost tallies are legitimate and he cautions the money likely won't arrive anytime soon.

"The process is a laborious one and usually takes some time," said Poloncarz.

The FEMA declaration means the counties effected by the more than seven feet of lake-effect snow are eligible for reimbursements. A number of businesses and homes had collapses and other damage due to the heavy snows. FEMA representatives were in the area earlier this month assessing that damage.  

Rep. Brian Higgins said they want to make sure the applications are proceeds in an expeditious matter.

"Every situation will be a little bit different. There is the public assistance piece," noted Higgins. 

Higgins said it's hard to pinpoint just how much the counties will receive. "It will be a case by case basis as well," stated Higgins.