Federal disaster declared for north country, western NY after storm

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 9:28 AM EST
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WASHINGTON (WWNY & Associated Press) — A federal disaster has been declared for the north country and western New York after the historic lake effect snowstorm.

President Joe Biden is sending federal aid to the region to help state and local authorities clean up from the massive storm that dumped as much as 6 feet of snow on the region, the White House announced Monday.

The emergency declaration authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief in 11 counties hit by the lake-effect snowstorm Friday and Saturday.

Those counties include Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence.

The National Weather Service recorded 72 inches of snow in Natural Bridge in Lewis County.

The NWS puts Watertown’s snowfall at 61 inches. If that’s verified by the NWS climate center, this storm will become the largest snowfall for Watertown in a 2-day period, breaking a record from 1995.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul thanked Biden for granting her request for emergency aid, and added in a news release, “My team and I will continue working around the clock to keep everyone safe, help communities dig out, and secure every last dollar to help rebuild and recover from this unprecedented, record-shattering historic winter storm.”

The emergency declaration means the federal government will pick up 75 percent of the storm costs. Exactly what costs are eligible will need to be figured out and it’ll take time to get the relief.

“Make no mistake, there will be a vetted process that is very defined and the likelihood of money coming on the scene will be a year or more down the road,” said Jefferson County Administrator Robert Hagemann.

Hagemann says the money will go toward expenses that are beyond your typical day-to-day operations, which would include overtime hours for county and city workers.