President Barack Obama declared New York a disaster area Wednesday, The New York Times reports, allowing the release of federal aid to the state's government and individuals after heavy rains from Tropical Storm Irene have caused severe flooding in dozens of communities upstate.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo formally requested the funds Tuesday and was gracious today for the President's swift response.
"I thank President Obama for his quick action granting New York a federal disaster declaration," the Governor said in a statement. "The damage incurred by Irene has devastated communities in counties across our State, leaving many without homes and towns and villages without essential public infrastructure. All levels of government are working together to help New York recover and we will not stop until the job is done."
Cuomo had said the list of costs already exceeded the $25 million threshold for aid to governments, businesses, farmers and residents, according to the Associated Press.
The list of costs is long. From the AP:
—26 of New York's 62 counties have damage.
—There are at least six fatalities.
—Four towns and villages were or are under water.
—Airlifts have been used to reach shelters.
—Countless roads and bridges need to be repaired or replaced.
—Search and rescue teams were mobilized and dams were monitored.
—70 shelters serving 4,800 residents are open.
—and debris removal will be massive.
Obama had previously declared New York as in a state of emergency when the storm approached Friday.
At a press conference with Governor Cuomo Wednesday, federal homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano said, "FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) will not be leaving," adding, "There's a lot of damage here."
An estimate from Kinetic Analysis Corp. of the total losses from the storm along the U.S. Atlantic Coast – including damage and expenses incurred by governments – is about $7 billion.