Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he is prepared to call a special session to bring state legislators back to Albany in order to deal with the recovery efforts at the state level should the federal government deny New York FEMA disaster assistance related to upstate flooding.
Since the flooding left a large portion of the Mohawk Valley region in shambles, Cuomo has officially requested President Barack Obama to issue a federal declaration of disaster and to provide assistance to residents in the area.
"The money has to come from somewhere to help people rebuild their homes and rebuild their lives. The money has to come from somewhere to help the local governments pay for this kind of damage. We have requested a federal disaster declaration, we did it last week," Cuomo said during an appearance in Herkimer County updating residents on the flood recovery efforts. "I'm going to call the White House tomorrow because we still haven't heard. I'm going to urge the President to make that disaster declaration, but I want the people of Herkimer and Madison and Montgomery [counties] and any affected community to know this: the community has done what it needed to do."
Cuomo also assured residents the state would be prepared to move forward with recovery efforts alone if denied federal assistance through FEMA.
"The Legislature is not currently in session and we'll see how creative we can be on the stateside but worst case scenario I would be prepared to call a special session to have the Legislature come back to deal with this issue if need be, because this is what government is all about," said Cuomo. "We were chatting inside – many of us in different forms of public service for different reasons and different occupations, but in a situation like this it's crystal clear – you go into government and you go into public service to help people."
In further attempts to help those affected by the heavy rains and flooding that devastated the Mohawk Valley region, Cuomo has called upon the Department of Financial Services, deploying a mobile command center in Herkimer County, to assist residents with insurance related issues.
"We're taking swift action to help victims get the relief they need to start rebuilding their lives, homes, and businesses," said Cuomo. "It's also vital that insurance companies do their part by moving quickly to expedite claims for those who were impacted by this terrible natural disaster."
Cuomo is also providing information and advice for victims attempting to receive insurance relief for damages suffered in the flooding through the DFS Disaster Hotline, available at 1-800-339-1759.
Advice on the steps to take following the flooding include quickly filing accurate property claims, only repairing necessary property — such as covering broken windows — but waiting for an inspection by insurers before making permanent repairs, keep careful records of interactions with insurers, make an inventory list of property and keep receipts from charges due to temporarily relocating.
Superintendent of Financial Services, Benjamin Lawsky, says "Dealing with a natural disaster can often be overwhelming for victims, but if they take a few simple steps right now it can make a world of difference in speeding up their insurance claims. We'll continue to do everything we can to make sure that families and businesses swiftly receive the relief they deserve from their insurance companies."