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July 14, 2013

Obama declares flood disaster in NY

WASHINGTON (AP) — Twelve upstate New York counties that were badly damaged by recent severe storms and flooding will receive federal disaster aid, President Barack Obama said Friday.

Obama declared a major disaster exists in the counties and ordered the aid, which will be used to supplement state and local efforts to fix damage done by flooding that occurred between June 28 and July 4.

The counties eligible for federal funding are: Allegany, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Franklin, Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara, Oneida, Otsego and Warren.

Severe flooding caused by persistent rains damaged houses, closed roads and forced people to flee their homes in the Mohawk Valley on June 28. Heavy rains caused the Mohawk River to overflow its banks where it traverses the southern end of Herkimer County, 60 miles east of Syracuse. Fire officials said there was 2 to 3 feet of water on some streets in the village of Herkimer, and emergency crews rescued at least three people from their flooded homes.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he requested the federal aid after preliminary damage assessments by state and local authorities showed there was more than $32.7 million in damage to public infrastructure as a result of the storms and flooding in the region.

“Since June when the rain and floods ravaged many communities across the state, I said I would do everything I could to bring relief and aid to the citizens and communities that have been damaged so badly,” Cuomo said in a statement Friday night.

On Monday, Cuomo said he’d call the state Legislature back to address recent upstate New York flooding if the federal government declined to issue a disaster declaration.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Friday it is assessing whether more counties may be eligible for assistance.

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