Gas should arrive within the next several days, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer told the media during a press conference at Rye Playland this afternoon.
The port has opened, which has allowed tankers carrying two million gallons of gas to arrive in Newburgh. That gas will soon make its way to Westchester gas stations, Schumer said. Also, the Linden pipeline in New Jersey has power restored and that gas will make its way to our local stations currently requiring police protection due to the shortage.
“My wife was on line (for gas) for two and a half hours and every half hour she called me asking me what I am doing about this,” Schumer said with a smile. “So this is my answer to her and everyone.”
Congressional representatives Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel, County Executive Rob Astorino and local elected officials joined Schumer for a tour of Playland, which suffers $12 million worth of damage, on Friday afternoon.
“We will rebuild and grow back stronger,” Schumer said. “Storms of this magnitude are too great for local tax payers to bear.”
Schumer announced that Westchester and Rockland will be included in FEMA’s major disaster declaration. Specifically, FEMA has approved grants to help individuals and households, homeowners and renters and local municipalities for eligible costs associated with emergency protective measures, tree removal, emergency medical care, search and rescue.
“However, there is more to do. We are saying that is a great first step but we need what’s called C-G, the other parts of disaster aid to be approved by the president and we need it done quickly,” Schumer said.
C-G would help with things like rehabilitation, road and bridge repairs, water control, and help for parks. Schumer said that he expects New York will get the C-G declaration.
Schumer also asked FEMA reimburse for the full amount of 100 percent of all Sandy related costs. Municipalities could get FEMA checks as early as next week, Schumer said.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey emphasized the importance of the federal disaster declaration.
“Dealing with this declaration will make a huge difference,” Lowey said. She thanked the senator for working with her and other state officials to get the declaration.
Lowey also addressed what is foremost on everyone’s minds, power.
“I share the frustration of over 130,000 people who still don’t have power, I am one of those,” Lowey said. “When ConEd and NYSEG and O&R in Rockland said Nov. 11, that is absolutely unacceptable.,” she said.
The congresswoman also said that each municipality having only one crew, which has been the typical case throughout the region, is also unacceptable.
All of the other officials who spoke agreed.
“Nov. 11 is much too far to wait,” Congressman Elliot Engel said. “It is frustrating to think we are being the step children (of New York City,)” Engel said.
County Executive Rob Astorino said he expects to see some “big progress” between Friday and Sunday. Just as he spoke, Con Edison mutual aid trucks from Maryland pulled up to Playland’s Con Ed staging area in the parking lot and he noted them.
We are asking for patience, we understand - my house is freezing as well with no lights on-we are asking for patience, but from utility companies we are also asking for progress,” Astorino said sternly.
“They need to continuously work as fast as they can and safely as they can.”
The main priority for the county and Con Edison is schools, Astorino said. Children need to get back to school and heated buildings and the county needs to be ready for elections, during which schools serve as the polling places.
Astorino also noted the cost of the damage to Playland when addressing the press.
The ice casino suffered $4.5 million in damage and the boardwalk suffered $6 million.
FEMA money will be essential to help pay for the restoration of those two of the amusement parks most popular features. View photos of the damage here and a video of Astorino's tour of Playland the day after Sandy struck here.
During the conference Schumer also made the following announcements:
- $13.8 Million for Cleanup Help: A federal grant of $13,896,148 for the New York State Department of Labor to hire approximately 1,400 dislocated workers to assist with clean-up and recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy in Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester and Rockland Counties.
- Disaster Recovery Areas: Within several days Disaster Recovery Areas (DRAs) should start to open in Westchester and Rockland where FEMA employees will be able to distribute information and answer questions from those who sustained damage from the storm. Schumer urged residents to save receipts and take photos of their damage so that they have the proof they need for reimbursement.
At the time of this posting on Friday at 6:30 p.m., 120, 374 Westchester residents are still without power.