FEMA Declares Putnam a Disaster Area
County Executive Paul Eldridge finally received the call he had been waiting for from Washington.
Last Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m. Putnam’s chief official learned from U.S. Senator Charles Schumer that Putnam had been declared a disaster area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), allowing businesses and residents to apply for federal dollars to help clean up and recover from Hurricane Irene.
Eldridge said he was “relieved, but thankful. I knew we qualified for the federal money and I anticipate FEMA will be setting up an office in the county with staff to help our local residents apply for the assistance.”
While the effects of the hurricane were not nearly as severe as those felt in neighboring counties and upstate, some sections of Putnam, primarily in the Philipstown area, were hard hit by flooding, while on the eastern side of the county power interruptions caused havoc for thousands of homes and businesses.
Senator Schumer visited Philipstown on Labor Day to view the damage first-hand before making his recommendation to FEMA officials.
Speaking from Washington, the senator told the Courier and PCN&R: “After viewing the damage and talking with affected residents and businesspeople, I realized help was needed for people to cope with the widespread devastation. We can now begin the process of helping repair and rebuild local infrastructure while assisting local residents to rebuild.”
Eldridge reported that 22 bridges were damaged by the storm while dozens of roads were washed out as a result of Irene’s fury.
Putnam has qualified for both the public assistance program as well as the individual assistance program.
Through the public assistance initiative, FEMA will provide supplemental Federal disaster assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures as well as the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged and publicly owned facilities.
The individual assistance program provides reimbursement for home repairs, temporary housing as well as grants for serious disaster-related expenses not covered by an individual’s homeowners insurance.