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FIXING HERKIMER'S DRAINS

AFTER SCHUMER PUSH, FEMA FINALLY APPROVES HERKIMER’S APPLICATION FOR FUNDING TO REPAIR STORM DRAINAGE SYSTEMS DAMAGED BY SEVERE 2013 FLOODING – CRITICAL REPAIRS WILL MAKE VILLAGE LESS VULNERABLE TO FLOOD DAMAGE

In 2013, Flooding Submerged The Streets Of Herkimer, Which Caused Extensive Damage

Village Has Sought Funding Approval Since 2014; After Major Push By Schumer, FEMA Finally Approved Funding For Repairs and Flood Prevention

Schumer: These Crucial Flood Mitigation Repairs Will Protect Citizens Of Herkimer

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer recently announced that, nearly four years after the Village of Herkimer’s storm drainage systems were severely damaged by flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved Herkimer’s application for repairs and mitigation. Schumer said the funding will allow for repairs to be made to the village’s storm drainage systems at Marginal Road and North Bellinger Street, which suffered serious damage due to flooding in the summer of 2013. In total the Village recorded over $6 million in damages to the Bellinger Street area during the June 2013 flood. But until the recent approval the drainage systems could not be repaired because the Village had not received final project approval from FEMA. Thankfully, FEMA heeded Schumer and the community’s calls and approved a total project cost of $490,019 which will allow the village to make critical repairs that make the entire village less vulnerable to severe flooding during heavy rains. This project has a 75% federal cost share.

“This is huge win for the Village of Herkimer and its taxpayers. FEMA has heeded our calls to approve this funding that will compensate Herkimer for storm-generated damage. Residents worked for years with us to secure the funding needed to both repair the drainage system and prevent future flooding damage. Its been close to 4 years since Herkimer’s streets were flooded causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage, and the failure of the storm drainage system took an enormous toll on this community, but this approval is the shot in the arm the village needs in order to get to work. It is a federal investment that residents not only need but deserve,” said Senator Schumer. “Herkimer can now repair and harden these storm drains and ensure the safety of residents for years to come.”

Last month Schumer visited Herkimer to call on FEMA to approve funding to repair and increase the resiliency of its storm drainage systems on Marginal Road and North Bellinger Street, an area that experienced significant damage from flooding and storms in the summer of 2013. He explained that in 2015 the village board voted to proceed with the bidding process for a flood mitigation project. After direct intervention from Schumer, FEMA has finally approved the funding.

The village plans to use the FEMA funding to support two projects that would work to improve Herkimer’s storm infrastructure, allowing the village to be ready if and when another storm hits. The village plans to increase the size of the North Bellinger Street storm drain pipe from 24 to 36 inches in order to better mitigate damage from future storms. The village also plans to repair and reroute the Marginal Road storm drain pipe away from existing buildings. Village officials believe that these repairs and upgrades will protect the village from future storms. Schumer added that other upgrades include replacing existing drains that are made of vitreous clay which until now could crack and collapse at any time causing catastrophic flooding in the central part of the Village.

The damage from flooding in 2013 qualified Herkimer County for FEMA recovery aid and the Village began working with FEMA and NYSDHSES in 2013 to design a project and access that aid, Schumer explained. The project scope and costs needed FEMA approval, so the Village worked diligently over the course of four years to comply with FEMA’s requirements and requests, including by submitting multiple amendments to its application in accordance with FEMA and DHSES direction and guidelines. A portion of the funding was approved in 2016, but it contained errors and omitted the village’s hazard mitigation proposal to increase the size of the North Bellinger Street storm drain pipe, so Herkimer requested corrections and a scope of work change for necessary re-routing of the pipe. Schumer said FEMA’s approval will allow the Village to begin construction and fully recover from the 2013 damages.

In 2013 Herkimer and the surrounding areas were hit by historic rainfall, with more than 20 roads closed and many residents who were surprised by the storms were left with damage to their homes and workplaces. Many of the county’s waterways including Bellinger Brook went past its banks and flooded nearby homes. The storm’s downpour submerged the streets of Herkimer, and caused failures at the Marginal Road and North Bellinger Street storm drains. As a result, the St. Francis Church and School and Mid-Town Apartments were left damaged and needed over $2 million in repairs, and residential flooding along North Bellinger Street required another $1 million to make repairs. In total, the Village recorded over $6 million dollars in damages in the Bellinger Street area and the lack of repairs to the drainage system is continuing to cause flooding in the area.

It will be four years this June since the flooding rains and storm took place. Residents and businesses have been extremely patient working in tandem with the federal government until approval was secured.

A copy of Schumer’s initial letter to FEMA appears below:

Dear Acting Administrator Fenton:

I write in support of the Village of Herkimer’s request for swift approval of the scope of work change for the Village Storm Drainage Contract as outlined under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Project Worksheet #616 (DR-41298NY). Herkimer is awaiting final approval for over $480,000 in funding to repair and increase the resiliency of its storm drainage systems on Marginal Road and North Bellinger Street, an area that experienced significant damage due to flooding and storms in the summer of 2013.

In June and July of 2013, flooding rains and storms submerged the streets of Herkimer, causing failure at their Marginal Road and North Bellinger Street storm drains. As a result, the St. Francis Church and School and Mid-Town Apartments needed over $2 million in repairs and residential flooding along North Bellinger Street required another $1 million. In total, the Village recorded over $6 million in damages in the Bellinger Street area and the lack of repairs to the drainage system is continuing to cause flooding to in the area.

The Village began working with FEMA and New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (NYSDHSES) in 2013 to utilize federal funding to help pay for these flood event damages. It has worked diligently over the past several years to comply with multiple requests to amend its application so that FEMA would approve and agree to reimburse the project costs, and with adjusted scope and cost estimates submitted, all that is needed is FEMA’s approval for the storm drain repairs to commence.

It will be four years this June since the flooding rains and storm took place. Residents and businesses have been extremely patient in waiting for necessary repair work and the village remains vulnerable to further damage should another storm occur. Given the importance of this project, I ask that you promptly review the application and approve the scope of work change to free up the necessary funding that will enable the Village of Herkimer to fully recover from the destructive storms of 2013.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important request. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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