Federal disaster declaration for Lake Ontario comes with funding, limits

Nov 16, 2017

The federal government is now offering funding and resources to upstate counties devastated by the flooding along Lake Ontario this year, after President Trump declared parts of the region a federal disaster area earlier this week.

Homeowners, small businesses and nonprofit organizations will not be eligible for the funding that's being released. It's only for local governments to help rebuild the infrastructure and properties that were damaged this year when Lake Ontario swelled to record-high levels.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul says it's important that state leaders also use the money to increase resiliency.

"That is a lesson we learned after Hurricane Sandy," Hochul said. "You can fix what’s broken, but you also have to build in a way that you’re also better protected against future onslaughts by mother nature."

The long-awaited funding will be available for Oswego, Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Wayne, Orleans and Niagara counties. Not included in the declaration are Monroe and Cayuga counties, even though they were in the governor's emergency declaration earlier this year.

But several New York lawmakers like Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and state Sen. Pam Helming, who represents parts of Monroe and Cayuga counties, say they aren't accepting that. 

"They are not included in the current declaration, but they can be added," Helming said. "I've had several conversations with Congressman Collins' office and also Congressman Katko's office, as well as the governor's office. I feel fairly confident that those two counties will be added, and I will continue to badger our federal officials and governor until that is taken care of."

New York lawmakers made more than $50 million in state aid available to businesses, property owners and local governments earlier this year. Helming says they may add more to that pool when the New York State Legislature returns to session next year.