New Rochelle Still Damaged from Sandy, Says Schumer
20 Mar, 2014
By Loop Contributor
New Rochelle’s Hudson Park Beach and municipal marina were significantly damaged By Superstorm Sandy, but, says New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a year and a half later only 10% of repairs have been done.
Schumer says FEMA is holding it up by not approving a $4 million rebuilding project.
According to Schumer’s office,
New Rochelle officials were originally told by FEMA immediately following Hurricane Sandy that this rebuilding project was eligible for 90% federal reimbursement, but FEMA has since declared that the damage was not all caused by the storm and is therefore ineligible.
This abrupt change has forced New Rochelle to re-submit its application for funding, with new forms of evidence, at multiple points over the past year, which has forced the city to incur additional expenses and project delays. In particular, New Rochelle has already put $1 million toward the rebuilding process with the understanding that it would eventually be reimbursed, a process that Schumer says has been delayed for too long.
“New Rochelle has been caught in a game of bureaucratic ping pong since Sandy, and have waited long enough for the federal assurance and reimbursements it needs to move forward with the rebuilding of Municipal Marina and Hudson Park,” said Schumer.
“These two New Rochelle treasures suffered serious damage during Hurricane Sandy and are clearly eligible for the disaster relief funding that FEMA approved for Westchester County after the storm, and provides for projects just like these all across the country. I am urging FEMA not to wait any longer or put New Rochelle through any unnecessary hoops. FEMA needs to work with the State’s Emergency Management Office and the City of New Rochelle to approve the project once and for all. It’s time to clear the bureaucratic red tape and get this project moving so that the beach and marina can be restored.”
“People cannot put their lives on hold as they wait for relief. The fact that this aid is still in question – well over a year after Hurricane Sandy – is shameful. My colleagues and I fought for a vote on this aid, and it is outrageous that bureaucracy now stands in its way. I have reached out to FEMA and demanded that the money needed be released in the most timely manner possible,” said Congressman Engel who has also been a key advocate on behalf of New Rochelle.
During Superstorm Sandy, sustained winds of roughly 75 miles per hour, as well as a storm surge as high as 10 feet caused significant damage to New Rochelle’s Hudson Park Beach and Municipal Marina. At Hudson Park Beach, the storm damaged sea walls, swimming area access ramps, and various structural elements of the beach’s pavilions. At the Municipal Marina, the storm caused docks, slips and gangways to twist, break and crack; and sent floodwater rushing into the Marina Office, causing severe damage. The storm also knocked boats that were stored for the winter off of their supports and left them strewn about the parking lot once the water receded.
In total, New Rochelle estimates that the rebuilding will cost $3.96 million, and is seeking Public Assistance funding from FEMA through its Disaster Relief Fund. Of that total, the City of New Rochelle has committed approximately $1 million dollars throughout the process, at points when the City expected to be considered eligible by FEMA. This includes an estimated $80,000 on Hudson Park, $177,000 at the Municipal Marina and a recent approval by the City Council to spend an additional $745,000 in the immediate future. However, City of New Rochelle officials note that they cannot afford to spend any additional funding until it receives both reimbursement for the money it has already spent and assurance that it will be reimbursed for 90% of the cost of the entire rebuilding project. Projects in approved disaster counties like Westchester Country are eligible for Public Assistance funding and should be reimbursed by FEMA for 90% of their costs.
Schumer continued, “The Superstorm Sandy damage in New Rochelle was real and the documentation is available, and there is simply no excuse for FEMA to withhold needed certainty from the City for these justifiable project costs.”