New York State Cleans Up After Irene

August 28, 2011 Updated Aug 30, 2011 at 1:54 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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New York State Cleans Up After Irene

August 28, 2011 Updated Aug 30, 2011 at 1:54 PM EDT

ALBANY, NY ( release ) The Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued storm related updates as the clean up begins after Irene slammed parts of the state.

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES WAIVER OF PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR EMERGENCY RECOVERY WORK

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are waiving permitting requirements for emergency repairs as result of Hurricane Irene, allowing community leaders and private landowners to directly respond to the need for waterfront, road and bridge stabilization, and emergency repairs.

"Government needs to do all it can to help devastated communities and homeowners get back on their feet and sometimes that means getting out of the way and allowing for quick rebuilding and restoration," Governor Cuomo said.

Terry Martino, Executive Director of the Adirondack Park Agency, said, "We want to make clear that the APA is not applying its permitting jurisdiction to any emergency project necessary in response to Hurricane Irene for the protection of life or property."

Joseph Martens, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said, "In response to the Governor’s call for state agencies to prepare for Hurricane Irene, we mobilized emergency management teams in every affected region from Long Island to the Adirondacks to assist localities in dealing with flood control, water treatment, oil and gas spills and public safety. Those teams will remain in place and all agency staff will focus on hurricane-related damage and assisting the public until recovery is complete. We are suspending permitting requirements for stream beds and banks to enable the quickest possible reaction to storm recovery efforts."

Local officials responsible for roads and bridges as well as individual property owners should take the urgent and immediate steps to stabilize and repair property, roads and bridges without consultation with the APA. The APA will be available to confirm emergency advice for officials or individuals in writing when requested. The public is advised not to enter streams, rivers and lakes where fast currents and submerged debris can be hazardous and life threatening.

Environmental Permitting in the Aftermath of Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene has caused widespread damage to public and private property and infrastructure from wind, flooding and stream bank and coastal erosion. Much of the replacement and repair of the damage will take place in environmentally sensitive areas such as coastal erosion areas, protected waterways, and wetlands. Permitting for construction and repair projects in these areas is suspended. When possible, work should be undertaken in consultation with the DEC to ensure that the project will be carried out in a manner that will cause the least adverse impact to natural resources.

To consult on environmental impacts in the wake of Hurricane Irene, individuals and businesses may contact the Regional Environmental Permits Office (http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/50230.html).

Storm Debris Disposal Guidance

DEC is also providing general assistance and guidance to help local communities address damaged facilities, debris disposal and solid waste. DEC has developed guidance for storm-related waste from damaged areas http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/8751.html. Responsible parties should contact the DEC regional office (http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/50230.html) for specific project applications.

In an effort to keep overall cleanup costs to a minimum and to reduce the overall impacts from the disaster debris it is important that those conducting the cleanup be mindful to separate out those waste materials which are benign or exempt from regulation, such as tree branches and limbs, from other more environmentally concerning debris during the cleanups. Care should be taken to set aside such materials as household hazardous waste, gasoline containers and propane canisters and other regulated solid wastes that would require special handling.

Emergency Spill Response

DEC is deploying spill response teams to assess flooding related spills throughout the impacted areas. DEC operates a 24-hour Emergency Spill Hotline (1-800-457-7362) for the public to notify the department of suspected spills.

Actions of the Office of Public Protection

Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) and Rangers were assigned provide staffing at State Office of Emergency Management (SEOM), New York City and County OEMs for impacted areas. DEC ECO and Ranger personnel and patrol vehicles continue to be deployed for rescue, transport and evacuation support in various localities in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, Capital Region and Adirondacks.

Forest Rangers were assigned to assist with road closures, radio tower failures, state land assessments and equipment relays for other agencies. DEC boats and airboats were deployed for flooding assessment and rescue in localities throughout the affected areas (see sample narratives below).

DEC Forest Ranger Rescue - Highlights

Ohio State University Rescue: On Saturday 8/27 at approximately 8:45 pm, the DEC was notified that 50 campers from Ohio State University were camping in the Five Ponds Wilderness in four groups of 12 at separate locations. The group leader requested assistance pulling groups, who had no knowledge of expected storm, from the back-country. Two DEC Rangers hiked the expected 20-mile loop overnight to establish contact and escort groups to safety. All hikers were found and extracted by trail and boat assistance as of Monday 8/29.

Sacandaga River Rescue: Rangers rescued three subjects on the Sacandaga River after they went canoeing after Hurricane Irene went through the area. The Sacandaga River was running high, and the three subjects rolled their canoe in to the swift water. The three became stranded in 3.5 feet of water in the middle river. They were unable to make it back to shore due to swift current. Rangers responded with an inflatable kayak from Northville and extracted them from the water. Subjects were mildly hypothermic and were turned over to Fulton County Ambulance for treatment.

GOVERNOR CUOMO ESTABLISHES UPSTATE STORM AND FLOODING RECOVERY TASK FORCE
Task Force Will Coordinate Disaster Response and Recovery Efforts for the North Country, Catskills, Upper Hudson Valley, and Mohawk Valley

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today established the Upstate Storm and Flooding Recovery Task Force which will be comprised of key agency commissioners and ensure seamless coordination between agencies. These agencies will work together to coordinate rebuilding of infrastructure, economic development, agricultural renewal, power restoration, and assistance with private insurance.

"From repairing roads and bridges, getting power back, helping with insurance claims and working with family farms, state government has rapidly mobilized to make sure that all available resources are in place to help the affected areas recover. This task force will ensure the highest level of state and local coordination to leverage all state resources and get them to where they are needed," Governor Cuomo said.

The task force will be chaired by Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Darrel Aubertine and President and CEO of the Environmental Facilities Corporation Matthew Driscoll. Full membership of the task force is below:

Co-chair -- Darrel Aubertine, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture and Markets
Co-chair – Matthew Driscoll, President and CEO, Environmental Facilities Corporation
Joan McDonald – Commissioner, Department of Transportation
General Pat Murphy – Adjutant General, Division of Military and Naval Affairs
Andrew Feeney – Director, State Emergency Management Office
Joseph D’Amico – Superintendent, State Police
Joseph Martens – Commissioner, Department of Environmental Conservation
Ben Lawsky – Superintendent, Department of Financial Services
Garry Brown – Chairman, Public Service Commission
RoAnn Destito – Commissioner, Office of General Services
Brian Stratton – Director, Canal Corporation
Kenneth Adams – President and CEO, Empire State Development Corporation

As a result of the record heavy rains caused by Hurricane Irene, there is historic flooding occurring in the region that has damaged numerous roads and bridges, destroyed 500-600 homes, and devastated thousands of acres of farmland.

STORM UPDATE FROM GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO

Tuesday 8/30 10:00 AM:
Power Outage Update:
Total customers without power (statewide): 528,160

LIPA: 270,264
Con Edison: 41,409
National Grid: 50,135
NYSEG: 88,305
Central Hudson: 56,896
Orange & Rockland: 21,151

The following is a summary of the estimated restoration times available at this time:

· Con Edison has reported estimated restoration times for 90% of the customers in the New York City to be today at midnight with the exception of Westchester, which is projected to be Thursday (9/1/11) at midnight.

· LIPA and Orange and Rockland utilities estimate that 95% of their customers will be restored by Friday (9/2/11) at midnight.

· National Grid outages in the Troy district are estimated to be restored by later this afternoon. National Grid estimates that the Hudson and Saratoga areas will be restored by tomorrow at noon. National Grid is also expecting the following areas to be restored by Thursday at midnight: Albany, Glens Falls, Warrensburg, Ticonderoga, Northville, Gloversville, Cobleskill, and Schenectady. These restoration times by National Grid are also dependent on flooding issues where they persist.

· Central Hudson estimates that the majority of its customers in Columbia County, Dutchess County, Orange County, and Putnam County will be restored by tomorrow at midnight. Central Hudson will have more restoration times later today.

· NYSEG is expecting a prolonged outage for some its customers due to severe flooding in its service territory.

OVERNOR CUOMO: IMMEDIATE STEPS NEW YORKERS SHOULD TAKE REGARDING HURRICANE PROPERTY LOSSES AND INSURANCE CLAIMS

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today provided advice to New Yorkers on what to do if they suffered property damage from Hurricane Irene.

"The days following a natural disaster can be confusing and stressful, but it is important for those who have suffered property damage to file an insurance claim as quickly as possible to help protect their financial future," Governor Cuomo said.

Benjamin Lawsky, Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services, who oversees the State Insurance Department, said, "We will do everything we can to help people who suffered damage from the storm recover and get their lives back on track as quickly as possible. The purpose of insurance is to help people rebuild and we will be working to see that process does as smoothly as possible."

Governor Cuomo and Superintendent Lawsky suggested the following measures for New Yorkers with property losses:

* The first step to getting your home restored is to contact your insurance company and/or agent with your policy number and other relevant information. Be aware that your policy might require that you make this notification within a certain time frame.

* Take photographs or video of the damage before clean-up or repairs. After you've documented the damage, make repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property, such as covering broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls. DO NOT have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Be prepared to provide the claims adjuster with records of any improvements you made prior to the damage. Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs.

* If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company or insurance agent if you have coverage for additional living expenses.

* Ask what documents, forms and data you will need to file the claim. Keep a diary of all conversations you have with the insurance company and your insurance agent, including names, times and dates of the calls or visits and contact details.

* Be certain to give your insurance company all the information they need. Incorrect or incomplete information may cause a delay in processing your claim.

* If the first offer made by the insurance company does not meet your expectations, be prepared to negotiate. If there is a disagreement about the claim, ask the company for the specific language in the policy in question and determine why you and the company interpret your policy differently. If you believe you are being treated unfairly, contact the Insurance Department at www.ins.state.ny.us . You can file a complaint about an insurance company at http://www.ins.state.ny.us/complhow.htm .

* Consumers should contact their insurance company, agent or broker to get answers to specific questions about their policies. Consumers who need further help should feel free to contact the New York State Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau at 800-342-3736 which operates from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Disaster related calls only should go to the Department’s disaster hotline at 800-339-1759, which will be open starting Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for as long as needed

Governor Cuomo and Superintendent Lawsky have also mobilized the State Insurance Department to help New Yorkers with their claims. The Department has:

* Opened the Department’s disaster hotline at 800-339-1759, which will be open starting Monday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for as long as needed.

* Put all companies that sell homeowners’ and auto insurance on alert to be prepared to handle claims.

* Sent staff to join other state and local agencies at the state and at local emergency operations centers.

* Initiated the Insurance Emergency Operations Center.

* Is sending the Department’s mobile unit to hard hit locations to provide on the spot assistance for consumers.

* In addition, health insurance companies have been instructed to accommodate consumers who had to evacuate their homes and as a result have to seek care from out-of-network doctors or other health providers.

GOVERNOR CUOMO WARNS OF CONTINUED SEVERE FLOODING IN SCHOHARIE AND MOHAWK VALLEYS

Urges Residents to Follow Local Emergency Instructions
State Officials Conduct Emergency Call with Local Counties

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo warned that several areas of upstate New York will continue to experience severe and dangerous flooding. The Schoharie Valley is currently experiencing record flooding levels, and as the water moves downstream, the Mohawk River is expected to crest at record flood levels tomorrow afternoon, with many communities issuing evacuation orders.

"I urge residents of the Schoharie Valley and near the Mohawk River to take extreme caution overnight and tomorrow. Follow the directions of local emergency officials. If ordered to evacuate you should do so without hesitation. Lives in upstate New York have been lost today for failing to heed evacuation orders. If you are in a location that is not evacuated, stay in safe shelter and do not attempt to use the roads," Governor Cuomo said.

The National Weather Service has reported that the state’s most significant rainfall has been in Greene, Delaware and Ulster counties. Albany, Montgomery, Saratoga, Schoharie and Schenectady counties have also been hit with prolonged and extremely heavy rain, and in many of these areas flooding has not yet reached expected peaks.

Dozens of bridges in the region have been closed or lost with numerous road closures continuing to occur. During the height of flood conditions, state transportation officials expect closures of the following roads:

· Interstate 88 in both directions between Exits 23 and 24
· US Route 20 in both directions at the Schoharie/Schenectady county line
· The New York State Thruway in both directions between Exit 27 (Amsterdam) and Exit 28 (Fultonville)
· Motorists should be aware that unannounced road closures in this region will be common due to flood conditions.

Under Governor Cuomo's direction, Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy and Howard Glaser, the Director of State Operations, convened an emergency telephone meeting tonight with the county emergency services coordinators in the nine counties for a report of damages and conditions and a review of additional emergency service and relief needs. The heads of the New York State Police, National Guard, Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority were among those participating in the emergency planning session.

Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy said, "We will continue to coordinate local responses with state resources through the State’s Office of Emergency Management, and to focus additional state resources on these areas. For some in New York, Hurricane Irene’s impact may be receding. But these counties and many other areas of New York will still face challenges that are wide-spread, daunting and life-threatening."

The State has deployed substantial rescue and recovery resources including rescue boats, helicopters, and excavation equipment, along with State Trooper and National Guard personnel.

· Flood levels in the Margaretville and Fleischmanns areas have reached 8 to 10 feet and isolated these communities.
· In Schoharie County, nine local bridges have been destroyed and more than 40 roads closed.
· In Montgomery County, about 150 residents have been displaced from flooded homes and placed in local shelters and county officials expected greater flooding from Schoharie Creek.
· In Delaware County, about 150 residents have been evacuated to shelters; in Greene County, more than 80; in Ulster County more than 100.
· In Schenectady County, officials are mounting efforts to protect the city's water wells and waste water treatment facility from being inundated by flood waters, 20 roads have been closed and two bridges are in serious jeopardy.

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES FEMA TO INCLUDE TEN MORE NEW YORK COUNTIES IN EMERGENCY DECLARATION

Additional State Resources Directed to Counties With Severe Flooding and Evacuations

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved an additional ten counties to receive federal assistance as a result of Hurricane Irene.

The initial declaration included the five boroughs as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. Today FEMA added Columbia, Delaware, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties for emergency protective measures and direct federal assistance.

"Although the storm is now moving out of New York, we must turn our focus on cleaning up and providing assistance where it is needed," Governor Cuomo said. "This FEMA declaration will direct additional resources to areas impacted by the storm and aid in the emergency response efforts. I urge all New Yorkers to continue to exercise extreme caution in the days ahead."

Governor Cuomo has also directed members of the National Guard and personnel from the State Police and Department of Environmental Conservation to Greene and Schoharie Counties where severe flash flooding has stranded residents. Evacuations have been ordered by local officials anticipating more flooding. Officials in Schoharie County have ordered the immediate evacuation of residents in the villages of Schoharie and Middleburgh.

Approximately 100 National Guard personnel were directed to Greene County to assist with the protection of life in the face of flash-flooding. Another 210 were directed to Schoharie County. Humvees, high-clearance vehicles and dozens of pieces of heavy construction equipment will be used to clear roads so that evacuations can take place. Approximately 35 State Police personnel were also dispatched.

UPDATE FROM GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO ON POWER RESTORATION
Con Ed estimates that the majority of their New York City customers will have power restored by the end of the day on Thursday and most Westchester customers by the end of the day on Friday.

LIPA as well as Orange & Rockland currently estimate that the majority of their customers will have power restored by the end of the day on Friday.

Upstate power utilities are still assessing damage today and have reported that there may continue to be extended outages as flooding and downed trees are hampering the restoration.

Power Outage Update:
Total customers without power (statewide): 890,698
LIPA: 398,000
125,000 customers restored
ConEdison: 89,119
98,000 customers restored
National Grid: 121,678
NYSEG: 131,690
Central Hudson: 102,211
Orange & Rockland: 48,000

Governor Cuomo took pictures while touring flood damaged areas of the state in Delaware County. Go to the photo gallery to see them. Photos courtesy Governor Andrew Cuomo.