2010-04-23 / Top Stories

Gov To Rockaway: Drown

Asks Disaster Aid For 5 Counties; Leaves Us Out
By Howard Schwach

In the wake of a number of storms that hit New York in past months, Governor David Paterson has asked the federal government to provide disaster aid to five counties: Nassau, Orange, Richmond (Staten Island), Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester, although beaches in Rockaway and Coney Island were also hard hit.

That declaration and the lack of addressing the needs of Brooklyn and Queens has angered Congressman Anthony Weiner and a number of other politicians.

“Last month, after record-breaking storms caused significant damage across New York, Governor David Paterson submitted a Disaster Declaration Request in an effort to secure federal funding to help with repairs and reconstruction,” Weiner said. “However, New York City’s most populous boroughs were left out of the request. Even though recent storms have ravaged miles of coastline in both Brooklyn and Queens, causing extensive flooding and erosion that threatens beaches, homes and vital thoroughfares like the Belt Parkway, the state’s initial disaster estimates failed to account for millions of dollars in damage, thereby ensuring that these heavilypopulated boroughs would not qualify for the desperately-needed funding.”

Weiner and several other legislators who represent Rockaway and Broad Channel, including Congressman Gregory Meeks, State Senator Malcolm Smith, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and City Councilman Eric Ulrich, have sent a letter to Paterson, asking him to rethink his failure to add communities such as Rockaway, Broad Channel and Coney Island to the list.

The letter said, in part, “The storm on March 13-15 led to unprecedented damage in neighborhoods from Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn to Far Rockaway in Queens. New York State’s initial estimate of damage excluded the crumbling Belt Parkway. Loss of the Belt would be catastrophic. Its loss would force hundreds of thousands of cars onto Avenue U and other local streets.

“Also excluded from the estimate was severe flooding in areas like Hamilton Beach and Broad Channel; downed trees and power lines in Woodhaven and Marine Park; the collapse of the bike path along the south Brooklyn coast; and the continued erosion of the beaches at Rockaway, Coney Island and Plumb Beach.

“We urge you to expand your request to FEMA for a major disaster declaration to include Brooklyn and Queens.”

Paterson’s declaration makes federal funding available to eligible local governments in the five counties designated by the governor. It allows for the repair or replacement of facilities damaged in the storm.

A number of beaches in the center of the Rockaway peninsula were depleted by the storm and there was severe flooding in Broad Channel.

Paterson added that he might designate other counties for federal disaster aid as the need arises.

Weiner, however, doesn’t want to wait.

“When storms hit New York, Rockaway always bears the brunt of the damage,” Weiner told The Wave. “Residents here shouldn’t have to wait for Beach Channel Drive to be under three feet of water before the area is included in a disaster declaration.”

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