Officials ask Hochul for formal disaster declaration, FEMA help

Christmas Eve tidal flood leaves lasting effects


Flooding. It’s a weather condition that many on the South Shore are familiar with – especially those in the Village of Island Park. But the “Christmas tidal flood,” as it’s been dubbed, that occurred two days before the holiday was a wake-up call to many in surrounding areas such as Oceanside and Freeport.

Noting the lasting effect of the storm, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin and Congressman Anthony D’Esposito have sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul asking for a formal disaster declaration and Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance.

After the storm, thousands of Long Islanders were impacted by the extensive tidal surge flooding and wind damage. Cars floated down the block, some sank in the street because of water in the undercarriage, and water rushed into homes and businesses alike. On Facebook, neighbors in Oceanside pleaded for those still out driving to do it slowly so that ripple currents wouldn’t damage their homes further.

Noting residents’ fiscal concerns, a letter was sent to Hochul. The officials wrote: “In order to support homeowners as they work to fully recover from the Christmas tidal flood, we ask that you request President Biden issue a formal disaster declaration covering the communities that were most devastated by the storm. An emergency declaration from the federal government would make available a significant amount of resources deemed vital for South Shore residents eager to complete their oftentimes expensive storm repairs.”

“Flooding was a serious issue for many residents during the recent storm – this was not a measly drizzle,” Clavin said. “The repercussions from this storm were vast, and the residents who sustained property damage from the floods and winds deserve assistance from the federal government.”

Clavin and D’Esposito said in the letter that only Hochul can set the process in motion, claiming that accessing federal resources via FEMA would provide New York State the opportunity to assist Long Islanders severely impacted by storm damage. In addition to contacting FEMA, they requested that the governor explore all avenues and utilize all available state resources to further support residents struggling to overcome the impacts of the tidal flood.

If an emergency declaration is declared, grant assistance would be made available to state and local governments, as well as certain non-profit organizations, to reimburse costs incurred for emergency work and the repair or replacement of damaged facilities. This funding is available on a cost-sharing basis, with FEMA generally covering 75 percent of the eligible costs for permanent and emergency work. 

“I stand with Supervisor Clavin and our colleague in Washington D.C., Congressman Anthony D’Esposito, in urging the Governor to set this process in motion,” said Councilman Christopher Carini. “Issuing an emergency declaration from the Federal government and mobilizing available resources will greatly help our residents as they contend with extensive storm repairs.”

In Island Park, the struggle continues to improve infrastructure and flood preparedness. Mayor Michael McGinty told the Herald that he is ordering an emergency declaration for the village.

“I will do everything in my power to assure and ensure the best interests of our residents as we continue to pull up our bootstraps to continue the revitalization and renaissance that is Island Park. We are a family,” McGinty said.