Schumer, Goldfeder Call on FEMA to Send Immediate Assistance to Rockaway to Repair Damage from Tropical Storm Irene

Three months after Irene struck NY, FEMA still has not come to Rockaway to fully assess damaged boardwalk and beaches – delays could cause serious damage to the community once strong winter winds and waves begin
December 9, 2011
In Letter to FEMA, Schumer, Goldfeder Call for Agency to Immediately Send Officials to Rockaway to Assess Damage and Begin Process of Allocating Funding

Schumer, Goldfeder: Local Residents Have Been Waiting Three Months and They Shouldn’t Have to Wait Any Longer


U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and New York State Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to immediately send assessment officials to the Queens and the Rockaway Beach area in order to conduct an assessment of the damage incurred as a result of Tropical Storm Irene. Three months ago, Irene struck New York and hit Rockaway particularly hard, battering the beaches along the Rockaway peninsula, buckling and stripping away sections of the boardwalk, and eroding sand. The displaced sand and damaged boardwalk threaten to cause serious damage to homes, schools, and roads in this narrow peninsula community once strong winter winds and accompanying wave action set in. Although President Obama issued a disaster declaration for Queens, FEMA officials still have not visited the community to take an official damage assessment. Today, in a letter to FEMA Administrator Fugate, Schumer and Goldfeder called on the agency to immediately send assessment officials to the area so that local residents are protected from further damage this winter.

“Three months ago, tropical storm Irene battered Rockaway, ruining parts of the boardwalk and causing significant erosion that could do even more damage this winter,” said Schumer. “Local residents have waited long enough and deserve assistance now, and I urge FEMA to immediately send officials to the area to begin the process of repairing the damage before it’s too late.”

“Beach and boardwalk repairs are not a luxury but a necessity and matter of public safety,” said Assemblyman Goldfeder. “Our homes and businesses are in jeopardy and the quickly approaching storm season only puts us at risk for even further catastrophic damage. I urge FEMA to take swift action and expedite the request for much needed relief.”

Irene caused significant damage along the Rockaway Peninsula, destroying parts of the boardwalk and causing major erosion. Left unrepaired, the toll of the damages can be exacerbated once strong winter winds and accompanying wave action begin, causing more harm to homes, schools, and roads in this narrow peninsula community. While FEMA officials plan to visit Rockaway Beach in the coming weeks, Schumer and Goldfeder said that project worksheet development can take some time as local, state, and federal officials examine storm-specific damages.

Today, Schumer and Goldfeder urged FEMA to immediately send assessment officials to the Queens and the Rockaway Beach area to protect residents, preserve the Rockaway peninsula, and return the area to pre-disaster conditions. Rockaway Beach has faced a long history of beach erosion and with the coming Nor’easter season, and Schumer and Goldfeder said that it is imperative that Irene-related damage be addressed as soon as possible.

A copy of their letter is below.

The Honorable W. Craig Fugate
Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency
US Department of Homeland Security
500 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472

Dear Administrator Fugate:

Thank you again for approving New York’s request for a major disaster declaration for damages associated with Tropical Storm Irene (DR-4020). Counties across the state are still trying to recover from this massive storm, but we write today to draw your attention to an important issue facing the residents of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens, New York.

As you know, Tropical Storm Irene hit Queens very hard and damages were so significant that President Obama included Queens County in his major disaster declaration. Statewide, the per capita impact exceeded $6.00, well above the major disaster declaration requisite of $1.30 per capita impact indicator, and Queens County alone had a per capita impact of $3.35.

Irene-related damage battered the beaches along the Rockaway peninsula, buckling and stripping away sections of the boardwalk, eroding sand, and making it difficult-to-impossible for residents to safely enjoy the area. Rockaway Beach has faced a long history of beach erosion and with the coming Nor’easter season it is imperative that Irene-related damage be addressed as soon as possible. The displaced sand and damaged boardwalk threaten to cause serious damage to homes, schools, and roads in this narrow peninsula community once strong winter winds and accompanying wave action set in.

We understand that FEMA officials plan to visit Rockaway Beach in the coming weeks to conduct a thorough damage assessment and that the results of this assessment will be included in New York State’s project worksheet for public assistance. As you know, project worksheet development can take some time as local, state, and federal officials examine storm-specific damages. Residents have already been waiting three months and in order to keep them safe we cannot keep them waiting any longer.

At this time, we urge you to send assessment officials to Queens and the Rockaway Beach area immediately. Doing so will protect residents, preserve the Rockaway peninsula, and return the area to pre-disaster conditions.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request. Please contact Grant Kerr at 202-224-6542 if you have questions or need additional information.

Sincerely,
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder