Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lowey to Bush: Fund Flood Mitigation

White Plains, NY) – Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Westchester/Rockland) contacted President George W. Bush to urge him to request funding in his upcoming budget for the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake flood mitigation projects in Westchester County.

“The options are clear,” said Lowey. “We can either fund the projects that we know will protect the region from severe flooding, or we can wait until disaster strikes the homes, businesses, and infrastructure of Westchester County and pay for assistance for the victims then. The financially and morally responsible choice is to invest now in the projects that will keep us safe.”

President Bush will present his Fiscal Year 2009 budget request to Congress in February. Federal funding to support a comprehensive county-wide flood mitigation strategy would help the region avoid the damages to homes, businesses, and infrastructure that severe storms may cause.

Full text of the letter to President Bush is below.

Dear President Bush:

As you prepare your budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2009 I urge you to include funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to provide long-term flood mitigation construction throughout Westchester County, New York, and the entire Hudson Valley region of the state.

By declaring a federal disaster for the region on April 24, 2007, you recognized the devastating impact of a Nor’easter on these communities and allowed for the appropriate short-term federal assistance to be provided. Unfortunately, without proper funding for long-term flood relief, future flooding in these areas is not a matter of if, but when.

Public Law 110-28 provided $8.165 million for the Corps of Engineers to investigate the flooding and propose mitigation strategies. However, these studies will be of little comfort to the people of New York if their homes and businesses are flooded again due to a lack of commitment from the federal government to provide appropriate funding for the construction of mitigation projects.

Additionally, Public Law 110-114 authorized $30 million for flood damage reduction measures along the Sheldrake and Mamaroneck Rivers Watershed. I urge you to include this funding for the Army Corps in your budget.

Because flood prevention work on one major waterway in Westchester could result in flooding of other waterways, this problem must be tackled from a county-wide perspective. The large-scale, comprehensive plan necessary to stem the constant flooding throughout Westchester requires a substantial federal commitment and is not without precedent. The federal government has already invested $85 million towards a similar $413 million project, providing flood relief for a far less populated area of New Jersey.

As I see it, there are only two options: fund flood mitigation projects now or pay millions of dollars worth of assistance with each inevitable flood disaster. I hope you agree with me that the former option is a better use of taxpayer funds to solve the flooding problems in Westchester County now.


Nita M. Lowey

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