Following years of advocacy and a Schumer-convened visit to the Village of Mamaroneck to survey the hundreds of millions in damage caused by Hurricane Ida, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D,today announced that after years of fighting, the project being blocked under the Trump administration, and multiple direct calls by Schumer, Gillibrand, and Bowman to top administration officials making the case for this project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has heeded their calls and will provide $88 million in funding for the final design and construction of the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Flood Risk Management Project.
“After years of pressuring and pushing federal agencies, this wonderful news from the Army Corps and the OMB finally breaks the federal logjam on this vital project and frees up the vital 100% funding we secured to finally move to design and construction for the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River flood prevention plan,” said Senator Schumer. “I visited Mamaroneck the day after Hurricane Ida, another deadly storm in a pattern of far too many that devastated the community, and promised I would not stop fighting until Mamaroneck received the funding it desperately needed to protect its community. With today’s announcement, I am pleased to know that promises made are now promises kept. I thank the Army Corps of Engineers, Army Civil Works, and OMB for heeding my call to approve the Mamaroneck project and finally starting the process to protect and rebuild the community that has suffered for decades because of severe flooding. I will continue to fight tooth and nail to see this project through to completion to ensure Mamaroneck residents have the flood protections and peace of mind they deserve.”
“As New York continues to weather increasingly severe storms, the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Flood Risk Management Project will save lives, which is why I fought for its inclusion in the 2018 Water Resources Development Act when I was a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee,”said Senator Gillibrand.“I visited Mamaroneck shortly after Hurricane Ida and saw firsthand the unprecedented devastation of the storm. I’m proud to have fought alongside Senator Schumer and Representative Bowman to overcome years of setbacks and secure this federal funding. I’ll keep doing everything I can to make sure the project is completed in order to protect the residents of Mamaroneck from future extreme weather events.”
“As we approach five months since Hurricane Ida devastated Mamaroneck, I am grateful that our relentless work to bring flood mitigation money into our community is finally happening,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D (NY-16). “After the Hurricane, I spent extensive time talking with families, assisting small business owners, and engaging community members as they tried to pick up the pieces of their lives. I vowed that their decades-old pleas for help would not go unnoticed any longer. Last fall, we saw an opportunity to include nearly $3 billion in new funding for disaster relief and resilience in H.R. 5305 and then worked with the Biden Administration to ensure that Mamaroneck was prioritized in this effort. This $88 million comes directly from our work on H.R. 5305, and our deep collaboration and partnership. With this funding, our community can finally move forward with flood mitigation efforts in Mamaroneck in a meaningful way. Still, I’m fighting for more. This is just one step forward on our path to prevent flooding and save lives from storms like Hurricane Ida, which are happening more frequently and getting stronger every time. The reality is that many of our neighbors were forced to evacuate, had homes that were destroyed, and some are still living in temporary housing because not enough flood mitigation resources had been brought into our community in the past. Myself and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand are changing that. We will continue to work in collaboration with federal, state, and local community advocates to make sure that we address the critical needs and ongoing challenges that our residents continue to face.”
“When Hurricane Ida hit Mamaroneck, Senator Schumer was quick to call and say enough is enough on getting the funding needed for the construction of the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Flood Risk Management Project. We’d been fighting for years to get this done and we both agreed that everyone needed to come together to cut through the red tape once and for all,” said Village of Mamaroneck Mayor Tom Murphy.“24-hours later, Senator Schumer brought officials at every level of government to Mamaroneck to see the devastation firsthand. He promised collaboration, to help rebuild, and to use his position as Majority Leader to get the$88 million in funding needed to start construction on the project. He kept that promise. I want to thank Senator Schumer for his legislative work and countless calls to top administration officials to get this across the finish line and also thankSenator Gillibrand and Congressman Bowman for their tireless advocacy.”
“No one has been a stronger advocate for the Mamaroneck residents impacted by flooding than Senator Schumer.He knows the pain and the loss and that is why he worked tirelessly to get the funding needed for the construction of the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Flood Risk Management Project.He, and our entire federal delegation, put the federal spotlight on a problem the people of Mamaroneck have had to endure for far too long. $88 million dollars is an unbelievable amount of money and I am confident we would not have received that money had we not had Senator Schumer fighting for us.Thank you to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Bowman for their tireless work. This money will not only save property – it will save lives,”said Westchester County Executive George Latimer.
"I want to thank all of our federal officials, and especially Senator Schumer, for their persistent efforts in securing $88 million for the construction on the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Flood Risk Management Project. After community input in the design phase, this will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to finally break ground on this much-needed project at no cost to the local taxpayers to save lives and prevent hundreds of millions in damages and destruction like we saw during Hurricane Ida. I’m proud to have worked with Senator Schumer and others to get this done,” said New York State Senator Shelley Mayer.
Assemblyman Steve Otis, a long-time supporter of the project added,“Today’s great news for Mamaroneck is possible due to the determination and responsiveness of Majority Leader Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Bowman. They worked with state, county and local officials to make the case that the Mamaroneck flood project must go forward and have provided additional funding to protect local property taxpayers as well. We are all working together to get construction started in Mamaroneck.”
“I am grateful to Majority Leader Schumer for seeing to it that such a critical and monumental flood mitigation project had federal funding in addition to federal engineering. While as a partner to the Village of Mamaroneck to share the burden of local costs, Westchester was committed, but it would have taken up the lion’s share of money set aside for countywide flood projects. Now there is no question that we will be able to fund all projects this year that are shovel ready,”said Westchester County Legislator Catherine Parker.
Specifically, this $88 million in construction funding will be provided through the Disaster Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which Schumer made sure included $1.5 billion in Army Corps construction funding for Ida-affected communities like the Village of Mamaroneck. Importantly, the representatives explained, construction projects selected will be 100% federally funded instead of the usual 65/35 federal and non-federal cost share, taking the burden off the local taxpayer.
The representatives explained that the project, which is now set to begin its design phase in the coming months, will reduce flood risk for the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Basins and help protect residents and business owners by constructing retaining walls and a diversion culvert. The project will also enable the deepening and widening of river channels, structure elevation, and other critical infrastructure updates. Overall, the plan has been estimated to potentially reduce average annual damages by approximately 87% and help reduce the risk of loss of life.
Schumer specifically has a long history of advocating on behalf of flood prevention in the Mamaroneck community. As mentioned, last year, following a personal call from the senator to Acting OMB Director, Schumer secured $1.5 billion in disaster supplemental aid to fast track Ida-impacted Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) construction projects. Schumer then made a personal call to the newly confirmed Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Michael Connor, to demand the inclusion of the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake River Flood Risk Management Project (the Project) to the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022 work plan.
The currentMamaroneck and Sheldrake River Flood Risk Management Project was first imagined in response to a 2007 Nor’easter storm, which produced record flooding in the Village of Mamaroneck, equivalent to a one percent flood event. Senator Schumer traveled to the area the day after the storm to personally survey the extent of the significant damage. The 2007 event caused over $50 million in damages and impacted over 50 percent of total structures within the study area. The storm resulted in floodwaters peaking on the Mamaroneck River in approximately four hours, and in approximately six hours on the Sheldrake River. As such, the evacuation time for approximately 19,000 residents in the Village of Mamaroneck was severely restricted and created a high-risk situation. Over 40 percent of Mamaroneck residents required evacuation assistance prior to floodwaters peaking, including a large population of children that attended a school located within the epicenter of the severe flooding.
Following this, in March of 2010, a Design Agreement was signed by the Army Corps, NYS Department of Conservation (NYSDEC), and Westchester County for a Pre-Construction Engineering and Design study. During this time, severe flooding again occurred during Hurricanes Irene and Lee in 2011. The flooding extended several blocks on both sides of Mamaroneck Avenue. The repeated disasters, including shoreline flooding from Super Storm Sandy in 2012, caused extensive damage and severely impacted the local economy. Following a $4.7 million Schumer-secured study by the Army Corps, the project was recommended by the Chief of Engineers and Schumer successfully fought to authorize this project for construction in the 2018 America’s Water Infrastructure Act. However, in February of 2020 it was discovered that the Trump administration would not move forward with the construction of the project because of the Benefit-Cost Ratio used by OMB, sparking community concern and outrage.
Now, thanks to Senator Schumer’s advocacy to have the project prioritized, Mamaroneck’s project will be funded through the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022.
A copy of Schumer, Gillibrand, and Bowman’s original joint letter to then Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jamie Pinkham and Commanding General and Chief of Engineers, Lieutenant General Scott A. Spellmon appears below:
Dear Acting Assistant Secretary Pinkham and Lieutenant General Spellmon:
As you select and prioritize projects for funding from the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022 (P.L. 117-43) (Disaster Supplemental), we write to express my utmost support for the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers Flood Risk Management Project and strongly urge its selection as a construction project for full funding.
Hurricane Ida caused historic flooding throughout the New York Metropolitan Area and one of the hardest-hit areas is the Village of Mamaroneck in Westchester County. The village experienced significant damage with up to 14 feet of water flooding homes, businesses, and roadways. In the aftermath of the storm, streets in the Village were impassable, while many residents, including children and the elderly, remained trapped in flood-damaged homes waiting for assistance from first responders and more than half of the Village lost power due to flooding. There were over 150 water rescues, 535 flooded homes, 1,000 people displaced, and 310 abandoned cars. The Village has reported over $18 M in damages and over $75 M in residential and commercial damage.
Alarmingly, Hurricane Ida, which came on the heels of Hurricane Henri, is not the first time that a storm has caused significant damage to the Village of Mamaroneck. In April of 2007, for example, a Nor’easter caused over $50 million in damages and impacted over 50 percent of total structures within the USACE Project Area. Over 40 percent of Mamaroneck residents needed evacuation assistance, including children attending school within the epicenter of the severe flooding.
At least two deaths have occurred as a result of flooding within the project area, and an additional death occurred in the village due to Ida. Three deaths from flooding are three deaths too many and the construction phase of this project must commence as soon as possible. No bureaucratic impediments, no red tape, including a lack of full funding, should come between the project and the work that must be done.
The Disaster Supplemental legislation included $3 billion in funding for construction projects, including $1.5 billion in states, including New York, with a major disaster declared due to Hurricane Ida pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, and the ability to fund projects at full federal expense.
Congress passed the Disaster Supplemental precisely so that critical flood and storm damage protection projects such as the Mamaroneck project would not continue to languish, and real progress could be made to advance them to the construction phase. We now urge you to select and approve the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers Flood Risk Management Project for full funding.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.