Village of Penn Yan Applied to FEMA for $2.5M for Repairs, But More Than $410,000 Needed for Most Visible Repairs Had Yet to Be Approved By FEMA – In July, Schumer Urged FEMA to Expedite Requests & Approve Final 5 Projects Desperately Needed in Penn Yan
Owl’s Nest Community Center, In Yates County, Collapsed Shortly After Being Severely Damaged By May 2014 Flooding, Leaving Behind a Hole and Exposed Culvert; Village of Penn Yan Requested More Than $410,000 to Fix “Owl Hole” Site and Make Other Critical Repairs to Rebuild Sidewalks, Road Surfaces, Retaining Walls and More Throughout The Village
Schumer: Penn Yan Will Now Receive Delayed FEMA Funds for Rebuilding and Repair
WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 19, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has agreed to fully fund repair work the Village of Penn Yan requested following devastating floods that destroyed local buildings, including the Owl’s Nest. Schumer explained that FEMA previously agreed to reimburse repair work with federal funds following the May 2014 floods and approved 12 of Penn Yan’s funding requests. But while other towns and villages in Yates County were able to complete these repairs, the Village of Penn Yan continued to wait on their final five requests to be approved. This is despite the fact that the village already completed a comprehensive review of the damage many of their buildings, roads, and infrastructure sustained. In July, Schumer urged FEMA to cut through the red tape and expeditiously review and approve these final five projects as soon as possible. In particular, the village had been awaiting approval from the State Historic Preservation Office on one project, and was awaiting final FEMA administrative approval on that project and two others intended to repair the Owl Nest site, Clinton Street and the Central Avenue Spur. Today, Schumer announced that these final projects have been approved and the Village of Penn Yan will finally see its check in the mail to make these repairs a reality.
“This is great news for the Village of Penn Yan and the residents who have waited far too long to see these repair projects get underway. For more than a year the Village of Penn Yan served as the poster child for delay, as it waited to receive funding needed to make critical repairs to buildings and roads in the aftermath of devastating floods. But after pushing to break through the red tape, I am pleased FEMA has heeded our call and will soon obligate this funding, which is desperately needed to get repairs underway at high profile sites in the heart of Penn Yan like the Owl’s Nest site that has sat for over a year as a gaping hole in the middle of the Village. Now, Penn Yan will have this much-needed federal funding to rebuild in hand,” said Schumer.
Schumer explained that the Village of Penn Yan had requested more than $410,000 to complete repairs on several buildings, roads, retaining walls, and sidewalks following heavy flooding in May 2014. The village submitted 18 applications for $2.5 million in FEMA aid. FEMA approved twelve of those applications, but the village awaited final approval on the five remaining projects. Schumer said these 5 applications represented damaged buildings and infrastructure that were among those most affected by the flooding and that served as a daily reminder of the flood’s damage. Schumer said one of the applications sought to repair the Owl’s Nest building site. The Owl’s Nest building, which eventually collapsed weeks after the flood due to the severe damage it sustained, left behind a gaping hole at the site and an exposed culvert. The site has sat unrepaired for so long, local residents have now dubbed it “the Owl’s Hole.” Schumer said the village also submitted requests for sidewalk repairs that needed to be made as soon as possible to avoid inflicting further inconveniences onto pedestrians. Schumer said FEMA had scheduled a visit to Penn Yan to assess the damage and make a final assessment on the amount it would reimburse the village and, in July, he urged FEMA to promptly review and approve the applications after that site visit.
On May 11, 2014 Yates County was hit by heavy floods that damaged roads and infrastructure along with a number of buildings, homes, and businesses. The county, including the Village of Penn Yan, submitted funding requests for various repair projects. FEMA quickly approved applications from Yates County, which has since completed the necessary repairs. Penn Yan, however, has yet to begin repairs on five projects more than one year since the floods were designated a federal disaster that enabled municipalities to seek FEMA repair funding.
In total the village submitted 18 Project Worksheet (PW) applications for approximately $2.5 million in aid after the storm. Twelve of the applications were approved, but the village was still left waiting for final approval for 5 of the applications. PW 00544 requests $183,000 to repair the Owl’s Nest community center and PW 00558 requests approximately $106,000 to fix eight feet of sidewalk and a retaining wall on Clinton Street. PW 00557 requests approximately $84,000 to repair a wall and road along Central Avenue that currently blocks access to local businesses, and is currently being reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office. PW 00193 and PW 00256 requests approximately $19,000 and $18,000, respectively, to complete other repair projects such as repair roads in the village
A copy of Schumer’s initial letter to FEMA appears below:
Dear Administrator Fugate:
I write to urge you to swiftly review and approve the Village of Penn Yan’s request for funding to finally repair damage caused by the May 2014 flooding (DR NY 4180). It has been over a year since the devastating floods hit Penn Yan and yet five of the most visible and most major repair projects within the Village of Penn Yan have not received final approval from FEMA. I request FEMA work to diligently review and approve these applications so that the repairs can be completed now before the current construction season window closes so that repairs are not delayed an additional year.
In May 2014, heavy rainstorms caused severe flooding across Yates County and the entire region, including the Village of Penn Yan. Power lines were knocked down, roads were flooded and washed out, buildings were destroyed and on July 8, 2014 the President issued a Major Disaster Declaration. The Owl’s Nest community center building in particular faced such significant flood damage that it collapsed several weeks after the storm, leaving behind an exposed culvert and a large hole in the ground where the building once stood. In total the Village submitted 18 Project Worksheet (PW) applications for approximately $2.5M in FEMA aid last year, and while I appreciate that twelve Project Worksheets were approved, the Village is still waiting for FEMA to approve five of the applications totaling over $410,000 in requested FEMA aid.
Specifically PW 00544 seeks approximately $183,000 to repair the Owl’s Nest site to address the exposed culvert and add backfill and regrade the site for reuse, PW 00558 seeks approximately $106,000 to fix eighty feet of sidewalk and a retaining wall on Clinton Street, and PW 00557 seeks approximately $84,000 to repair a retaining wall and road that was washed away along the Central Avenue spur which is the main access way to the local business, the Birkett Mills. I understand that PW 00544 and 00558 are under final FEMA review, and that PW 00557 is currently being reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). I am hopeful that the reviews will be completed quickly and ask FEMA’s continued diligence to expedite their approval.
Similarly, PW 00193 seeks approximately $19,000 and PW 00256 seeks approximately $18,000 to complete several smaller repair projects including mostly washed out roads and shoulders. I understand that FEMA has scheduled a site visit to evaluate the damage, and I appreciate FEMA’s decision to examine the damage firsthand. After conducting this site visit, I urge FEMA to review and approve these two PWs along with the other three outstanding PWs as quickly as possible. These PWs represent the final projects that Penn Yan needs approved for its rebuilding process from the May 2014 flooding.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
cc: Ruth L. Pierpoint, Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation, State Historic Preservation Office