Hinchey Votes Against Insufficient Disaster Funding Bill, Congressman Renews Call for Immediate Up or Down Vote on Bipartisan Senate Bill
Damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee badly affected New York's 22nd Congressional District, which Hinchey represents. Throughout the Southern Tier, damage is estimated at more than $250 million. In the Hudson Valley, Hurricane Irene caused massive power outages and record flooding. In Ulster County, 60 percent of residents lost power, seven bridges were destroyed. In fact, two of those bridges were just washed away and not found. Farmers in Ulster, Orange and Sullivan counties suffered devastating losses and because the crop insurance program remains inadequate for them, these farmers may get no assistance at all. Ulster and Orange counties alone have an estimated $62.5 million in agriculture losses, yet the House bill contains no assistance for farmers.
Hinchey was one of the first in Congress to call for additional appropriations to assist those affected by Hurricane Irene, and Tropical Storm Lee. In an August 29 press release, Hinchey said "congressional action will also be necessary to increase funding for the President's Disaster Relief Fund." Today, that fund contains less than $400 million and is set to run into the red unless Congress takes action by the end of the month.
Hinchey has also worked to deliver the federal disaster declarations necessary for New Yorkers to receive the federal assistance they need. Last week, Hinchey spoke with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to request expedited Major Disaster Declarations for New York counties affected by Tropical Storm Lee. Prior to that, Hinchey requested Federal Emergency Declarations for six New York counties affected by Lee. The designation was subsequently granted, making federal resources available to mitigate flood damage, save lives, protect property and public infrastructure, and ensure public health and safety. Hinchey has also introduced legislation and has been working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expedite and provide additional assistance to farmers affected by the flooding and is supportive of efforts to provide crop insurance retroactively to New York farmers in need.