BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Gov. Kathy Hochul, U.S. Reps. Brian Higgins and Nick Langworthy, and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand called on President Joe Biden and FEMA on Friday to provide more federal funding to support Western New York’s recovery from last December’s blizzard.
If granted, the funding would cover the costs of storm-related damages and some response operations in affected communities in Erie, Niagara and Genesee Counties. It would also fund funeral expenses and crisis counseling for individuals in Niagara and Erie Counties.
Western New York didn’t automatically receive that extra financial support because of a FEMA rule that only disperses the funding if the snowstorm in question had the largest total snowfall, Langworthy said in an interview on News 4 on Friday. December’s blizzard, while deadly, didn’t have the region’s largest snowfall.
“This is a rule that needs to be changed because — Buffalo, New York, Erie County, Western New York — we’re going to face this again,” Langworthy said. “It’s a flaw in the system. We’ve got to change the flaw, and we need a waiver on this particular storm. My hope is that the [Biden] administration looks at this and understands that this was a great cost to this community and rights the wrong.”
Winter Storm Elliott claimed the lives of 47 Western New Yorkers, including 46 Erie County residents and one Niagara County resident. It also created 37 hours of blizzard-like conditions in Erie County, making it the longest recorded blizzard under 5,000 feet of elevation in U.S. history.
Upon Hochul’s request, Biden authorized FEMA to provide Western New York with disaster relief equipment and direct federal funding in the days following the blizzard.
You can read Higgins and Langworthy’s joint letter to Biden here, Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand’s letter here and Hochul’s press release here.
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