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FOR RELEASE: Wednesday, Aug 12, 2009

Governor Paterson Activates National Guard To Assist In Massive State Response To Western New York Floods

Governor Meets With Affected Residents in Most Severely Damaged Villages of Gowanda and Silver Creek

Governor David A. Paterson today activated elements of the 152nd Engineer Support Company of the New York Army National Guard to join in the massive State response to help flood ravaged communities in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Erie counties. The Governor ordered the activation of New York’s citizen-soldiers as he toured two of the hardest hit areas from Sunday’s storms -- the Villages of Silver Creek in Chautauqua County and Gowanda on the border of Cattaraugus and Erie counties. Governor Paterson also met with local officials and residents in the affected areas today, and pledged the State’s full support for the community in the coming weeks. “The men and women of the National Guard will answer the call to duty once again, bringing with them experience and expertise and joining the hundreds of State personnel already on the ground to help protect our friends and neighbors recover from this disaster,” said Governor Paterson. “The devastation in Western New York is just heart wrenching. But residents here should know that I will continue to do everything in my power to assist them.” On Monday, Governor Paterson declared a State Disaster Emergency for Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Erie counties and ordered State agencies to provide all assistance possible to these flood-stricken communities. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) will begin conducting preliminary damage assessments in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties on Thursday to determine if federal assistance can be made available to individuals and communities. The Governor requested this technical assistance from FEMA on Monday to assess the impacts caused by the series of storms on July 29. To qualify for federal disaster assistance, New York must reach a certain threshold of damage statewide in excess of $26 million. Damage assessments will also be conducted in the counties of Columbia, Delaware, Genesee, Rensselaer and Sullivan, as well as in Chenango and Cortland, which the Governor requested on Tuesday. The New York Army National Guard will mobilize up to 60 soldiers of the 152nd Engineer Support Company based at the Connecticut Street Armory in Buffalo. The 152nd is part of the 204th Engineer Battalion, which is headquartered in Binghamton but also has companies located in Kingston, Peekskill, Horseheads and Walton. These soldiers will bring 10 five-ton dump trucks and four front-end loaders to assist in disaster cleanup. The torms forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents and a hospital in Gowanda as well as the disruption of local water supplies, widespread power outages and damage to scores of homes and businesses. Many roads in the affected areas are still impassable, and power and telephone service has not been fully restored. “New York's citizen-soldiers are proud to be able to answer Governor Paterson's call and to aid their fellow citizens in their time of need,” said Major General Joseph Taluto, the Adjutant General and commander of the New York National Guard. “Our soldiers live in communities across the State and they know how important is to be there, in those communities, when natural disasters strike.” Denise O’Donnell, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety who toured the disaster areas with the Governor, said: “The people of Western New York have come together to deal with the aftermath of the flooding disaster on the Southern Tier. I applaud the Governor for ensuring that the State is a strong and committed partner in that effort. I thank the members of the National Guard who join the hundreds of women and men from State agencies in this massive clean-up effort.” Governor Paterson designated SEMO Director John R. Gibb the State Coordinating Officer for this event. In that role, Gibb will coordinate the State response to support local governments as well as work with FEMA and other federal agencies. “We are doing everything possible to help residents, businesses and communities in the stricken areas,” Gibb said. “State personnel are working shoulder to shoulder with local fire, police, DPW, EMS and volunteers in this massive effort.” More than a dozen agencies and organizations are responding in the three stricken counties including State Police; Departments of Health, Transportation, State and Correctional Services; the Office of Fire Prevention and Control; SEMO; Division of Military and Naval Affairs; the American Red Cross; the Western New York Incident Management Team; and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Coast Guard. Representatives from nearly a dozen agencies are working 12-hour shifts in the State Emergency Operations Center in Albany, responding to and coordinating mission requests. Among the State response activities: The Department of Transportation has more than 250 personnel and 240 trucks and pieces of equipment working in the stricken areas. DOT activated the Area Transportation Infrastructure Group to coordinate cleanup and assessment and has brought in personnel and equipment from other regions of the State. DOT also is assisting local communities in the Towns of Hanover and Perrysburg and Villages of Silver Creek and Gowanda. State Police continue to work around the clock in maintaining traffic control posts and responding to emergency calls as well as working in the local emergency operations centers. The Office of Fire Prevention and Control continues to coordinate Mutual Aid Assistance under the State Plan, provide technical assistance regarding hazardous materials, and coordinate the Code Enforcement Disaster Assistance Response teams (CEDAR), or local code and building specialists organized through the Department of State and OFPC. Counties providing Mutual Aid include units from Erie, Monroe, Orleans, Wyoming and Steuben. The Department of Health is working with the county health departments to assess the impact of the storms on local water supplies and is providing collection and laboratory services to ensure safe drinking water for the affected areas. The agency has been working with healthcare providers to review any issues that impede their ability to operating, including capacity and interruption in utilities as well as providing guidance to localities in order to distribute health advisories to both local businesses as well as the public. DOH also has been providing support and direction on the stabilization and rehabilitation efforts of Tri-County Memorial Hospital in Gowanda. SEMO personnel, in addition to conducting damage assessments, continue to work in county emergency operations centers to help coordinate State and local response and recovery activities. The Department of Environmental Conservation Spills Response continues to respond to storm related petroleum and hazardous substance spills. DEC staff is assessing and working with local communities whose wastewater treatment plants were damaged and staff continue to conduct assessments, offer guidance, monitor and assist in their recovery. DEC law enforcement have participated in preliminary damage assessment in the Sunset Bay area. The American Red Cross, a member of the State Disaster Preparedness Commission (DPC), operated two shelters for displaced residents that closed Tuesday afternoon. Additionally, the Red Cross has opened a client service center in Silver Creek to begin the processing of client casework and the distribution of clean-up kits as well as continuing damage assessments of personal property losses in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. The DPC also activated its Human Services Committee, more than a dozen State and volunteer agencies and organizations, to coordinate assistance for individuals and families with local and county officials. Cutlines: SGT David Green of thje 152nd Eng Co off loads a bucket loader from thetrailer that brought it to Gowanda from the units home at the Connectuicut St. Armory in Buffalo. Green lives in Median and works as a firefighter for the city of Batavia. Gov. David Paterson poses with Soldiers of the 152nd Engineer Support Co. who responded to his mobilization order on Wednesday, Aug. 12 in Gowanda. The Soldiers are, from left,2nd LT kevin Kopec, Spec. Elmer Pickard, Pvt. Nick Bourgeois, Pvt. Vinny Dimarco, Pvt. Alex Tatoian, Spec. Robert Short, and Sgt. David Green.,pv2 alex tatoian, spc robert short, sgt david green witg

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© NYS DMNA Press Release:Governor Paterson Activates National Guard To Assist In Massive State Response To Western New York Floods
URL: http://dmna.ny.gov/pressroom/?id=1250120396
Page Last Modified: Aug 12, 2009