Homeowners lament FEMA’s denial of individual assistance for Halloween storm

New York News

WELLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has granted public funding to 18 counties affected by the Halloween storms but denied funding for individual households that experienced damage not covered by insurance.

The late October storms brought heavy rain, flash flooding and strong winds to Hamilton County.

“It just came right through here like a tornado,” said George Bramer, of Wells. “I mean, boulders and everything else. When I heard that bang go off in there, I thought for sure my house was gone.”

His house is still standing after the creek in his backyard overflowed, spilling into his backyard, and blowing the door off his cellar. Up to four feet of water filled his basement and destroyed everything in it.

“I lost all my appliances and everything in the cellar, freezer, washer, dryer, my wall hanger, and I had a heater in there,” he said.

And underfoot—a mucky mess, one foot deep.

“I don’t know how, but this has to be shoveled out of here. I mean, this is terrible,” he said.

But not terrible enough, according to FEMA. A letter from the agency to Governor Andrew Cuomo said the impact to households was not to such “severity and magnitude” to warrant individual assistance.

The governor called the denial “unacceptable,” writing in part, “I’m demanding the Federal Emergency Management Agency provide a detailed explanation on the denial.”

Bramer says FEMA’s thresholds and criteria need to be reconsidered.

“Well, I don’t think it’s fair,” said Bramer.

A restoration company says one of their Wells clients had more than $20,000 worth of damage. Bramer is out several thousand, which is more than enough to cause a financial burden for the 72-year-old.

“They don’t consider this enough damage? It was enough for me.”

Governor Cuomo has less than a month to appeal FEMA’s decision.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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