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Schumer seeks FEMA aid for LI's December blizzard

Abilio Oliveira uses a snowblower on Barone Drive

Abilio Oliveira uses a snowblower on Barone Drive in Coram on Dec. 20, 2010. Credit: James Carbone

Last month's blizzard burying Long Island in about 2 feet of snow cost more than $25 million in cleanup costs and damages - much of which will be recovered in federal disaster aid under a plan announced Tuesday by Sen. Charles Schumer.

Speaking beside a sand pile and trucks parked at the Brookhaven Highway Department, Schumer said he is urging the Federal Emergency Management Agency to declare a snow disaster for Nassau and Suffolk because of the storm that swept across the Island on Dec. 19 and 20.

"Local taxpayers should not have to foot this alone," said Schumer, joined at the news conference by Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko and town Highway Superintendent John Rouse.

Schumer's formal request, expected to be endorsed by Gov. David A. Paterson, would make hard-hit Long Island communities eligible for the federal money that he said will allow them to recover up to 75 percent of some expenses used in fighting the storm.

"It was a history-making snowstorm," Lesko said. In Upton, within his town, National Weather Service officials measured 26.3 inches of snow, the highest total there for a single storm since 1949.

Overall, Schumer said Suffolk was harder hit economically by the storm, with more than $15 million in damages. Key to local budgets, he said, the disaster aid would help defray the cleanup costs endured by Long Island municipalities.

With many miles of roads covered in snowdrifts, Brookhaven reported $3 million in cleanup costs, and Islip nearly $1 million.

In Nassau County, officials spent $1.2 million to clean up, Schumer said, with Hempstead Town paying more than $1 million to clear its roads. Many other towns and villages across Long Island also spent more than $100,000, he added.

Federal disaster aid would also cover the overtime expense of police and other municipal workers who dealt with the storm, as well as repairs to roads, bridges and buildings damaged by the storm. The FEMA aid, if approved, should be available within a few weeks, a Schumer spokesman said.

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