New York

Hochul Signs Disaster Declaration to Recoup at Least $50 Million in Ida Damages

The new governor promised to spend hundreds of millions on improving infrastructure around New York

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has concluded an initial downstate tour of the destruction caused by Ida's record rainfall, where widespread damage to homes and infrastructure is estimated to run well over $50 million.

Ida's price tag is far from final, but the New York governor says federal officials have gathered enough estimates to start requesting financial assistance.

On Sunday, Hochul signed a major disaster declaration designed to reimburse the state for its storm response once approved by President Joe Biden. He's scheduled to tour some of the hardest hit communities in New York City and New Jersey on Tuesday.

New York had to prove that last week's storm caused at least $30 million in damages in order to request funding through the declaration, Hochul explained at the signing. Federal funding from FEMA will reimburse expenditures on the state's crippled infrastructure and an estimated 1,200 homes seriously impacted by the storm.

"I went to those homes, I saw where people lived. I saw how they had no escape route when they lived in a basement home," the governor said Sunday. "It was a home, it wasn't large it wasn't fancy, but this was their home."

Hochul said the funding would also help New Yorkers displaced and in temporary housing, and those in need of home repairs, unemployment assistance, crisis counseling and legal services.

Biden has already approved emergency declarations for New York and New Jersey, requests from each state's governors signed in the immediate aftermath of Ida's tear through the tri-state. Hochul's office said the emergency declaration covered $5 million for 14 downstate counties.

Photos: Recliners Brought to Curb, Mud Scrapped From Homes in Ida Cleanup

At least 17 people died in New York following Ida's historic and devastating flooding last week. In the first hours of the storm, neighborhoods saw a month's worth of rain in a single hour, catching millions by surprise as floodwaters quickly took over streets and flowed into countless basements.

It's the quickness of the deadly storm that the governor wants to be ready for in the near and distance future.

“I’m operating under the assumption that this could happen again in another 10 days," Hochul said while calling for an improved warning system.

In looking ahead to future climate threats, the governor announced millions in federal dollars she plans to allocate to storm resiliency. Hochul said there's $378 million in previously-awarded hazard migration funding from FEMA that'll be redirected into improving infrastructure. She called on local officials to help her identify projects that need immediate attention.

"I'm asking all of our local elected officials: tell me where the challenges are, tell me what you know could happen in a week from now if the same weather event happened and we will go right to those places first."

In the meantime, she's encouraging New Yorkers to check out the state's newest online resource to find additional information on applying for FEMA financial assistance and accessing shelter and food.

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