CAPITAL REGION — President Donald J. Trump on Friday issued a major disaster declation for the counties effected by the Halloween rain and wind storm, which caused flooding and washed out roads across the Mohawk Valley and parts of the Adirondacks.
The declaration authorized Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement for government-inucrred costs in Fulton, Saratoga, Hamilton, Warren, Essex and other counties. Altogether, the storm is estimated in a state report to have done more than $33 million in damage.
"I am grateful to President Trump for responding quickly to my push for a major disaster declaration for the North Country following the devasting Halloween storm," said U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, whose 21st Congressional District includes much of the damage area.
"I'm looking forward to continuing my work with local officials to ensure we have everything we need to rebuild," she added.
In all, 18 counties are covered by the disaster declaration, including some in western New York.
Northern Saratoga County sustained $2 million in damages, said Carl Zeilman, the county's director of emergency services. "There was damage to culverts, bridges and roadways. The towns impacted were Day, Edinburg, Greenfield and a little of Providence. Seeing as how the declaration was for those communities, it will help them repair and restore infrastructure to its original state."
Infrastructure maintained by county government also sustained damage, including Lake Desolation Road, which was washed out.
"This has been one of the more severe storms I've seen, in terms of impact on a small geographical area with a lot of rain coming down in a very short period time," Zeilman said. "The highway crews that responded to repairing roads and culverts and bridges, they need to be commended for the work they did. They worked around the clock during that storm."
The approval means costs incurred by local governments to recover and rebuild are eligible for up to 75 percent reimbursement from the federal government. FEMA's Public Assistance program can reimburse costs for activities including debris removal, emergency protective measures and the repairing and rebuilding of publicly owned infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, water and wastewater treatment facilities, and other public buildings.
"The federal government has validated our experts' assessments of the damage this storm caused to public infrastructure, but it is only the first step in getting the assistance we need to help these communities build back," said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. "I was on the ground the morning after the storm and witnessed firsthand the severe damage sustained by hundreds of homes, and the federal government must now do its part to ensure these families immediately get the funds they need to repair and rebuild their lives."
The storms, some of which dropped 2 to 5 inches of rain in a matter of hours, caused significant damage across upstate New York and hit parts of the Mohawk Valley particularly hard. Residents were displaced, about 100 roads were destroyed or damaged by floodwaters, and there was one death: 82-year-old Catholic priest the Rev. J. Thomas Connery drowned in a flash flood while traveling to perform a service in Newport, Herkimer County. Connery was a priest in Glenville and other Capital Region communities for many years.
Cuomo's office said fooding reached record levels on the West Canada Creek north of Utica, the Sacandaga River at Hope, and the Mohawk River at Little Falls. Rescue teams aided 65 people and 14 animals during the storm.
There were also widespread power outages from high winds, with 650,000 electric customers affected, including nearly 250,000 out at the storm's peak.
Essex County, a rural county of less than 40,000 people located in the eastern Adirondacks, suffered $4 million in damages to roads and other infrastructure, said Shaun Gillilland, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors.
"The immensity of the damage and stuff was a very difficult thing to take on for the county alone, so this is great news," Gillilland said Friday. "We're enormously relieved budgetarily."
The federal government has yet to make a decision on the state's request for individual assistance to people whose properties were damaged.