Gov. David Paterson and the state's two senators are calling for federal assistance in the wake of last week's ice storm that has about 66,000 Capital Region homes and businesses still without power today.
At a news conference at Niskayuna Town Hall this afternoon, Paterson and Sen. Charles Schumer called on the federal government to offer help to 16 counties already declared disaster areas over the weekend by the governor. Schumer said that designation would result in 75 percent reimbursement for "emergency measures taken to save lives and protect property."
An additional followup survey by the State Emergency Management Office would lead to additional aid, including assistance for small businesses, Schumer said.
Schumer said officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency have assured him the emergency designation and assistance should come quickly.
"These are the times when all levels of government need to rally together," Schumer said. "We need all hands on deck."
Sen. Hillary Clinton joined in the call for the federal declaration, issuing a statement calling for a quick response by the federal government.
"I urge the president to issue an emergency declaration as soon as possible that residents and business owners can get on with the job of cleaning and rebuilding their lives," Clinton said in her statement. "New Yorkers need assistance and they need it now."
Both Schumer and Paterson hailed the effort to respond to the storm, but admitted much more work needs to be done.
"We are finding that we still have a tremendous amount of effort we have to wage," Paterson said.
National Grid estimates that about 51,500 customers remain without power, according to its Storm Central web page at www.nationalgridus.com/niagaramohawk/. That number includes about 22,500 customers in Albany County, 15,500 in Rensselaer County, 2,800 in Saratoga County, 8,600 in Schenectady County, 1,100 in Schoharie County and 1,250 in Washington County.
In addition, New York State Electric & Gas reported this afternoon that about 14,500 customers remain without service in its Mechanicville Division, which includes parts of Saratoga, Washington, Rensselaer and Columbia counties.
Officials from both utilities have said they expect service to be completely restored by the middle of the week, though NYSEG officials now say they don't expect to have all service restored until Thursday.
Meanwhile, officials from the American Red Cross said 172 people used shelters the group have set up throughout the region last night. The Red Cross shut down shelters at the Stillwater Community Center, the Ravena Grange and the Verizon building in Troy, but shelters remain open at these locations:
Colonie Village Hall, 2 Thunder Road, Albany
Tsatsawassa Fire Company, 9 Fire House Lane, Route 20, Brainard
Hudson Valley Community College Field House, 80 Vandenburgh Ave., Troy
Senior Center, 6 Clifton Common Court, Clifton Park
Judicial Building, corner of Route 236 and Harris Road, Halfmoon
Union College Memorial Field House, 807 Union St., Schenectady
Schoharie Central School, 136 Academy Drive, Schoharie
United Methodist Church of Esperance, 171 Main St., Esperance
Cambridge Rescue Squad, 37 Gilbert St., Cambridge
Call 458-8111 or visit www.redcrossneny.org for an up-to-date listing.
In addition, NYSG is distributing dry ice and bottled water until 8 p.m. today at Halfmoon Town Hall, 2 Halfmoon Town Plaza.