Over 200,000 in Buffalo Still Without Power, But Federal Disaster Not Declared Yet

Over 200,000 homes are still without power in the Buffalo, N.Y., area, yet residents and local businesses are still awaiting federal reimbursement funds as a full disaster declaration has not yet been made.

Meanwhile, fire departments and other public facilities are requesting new generators as their emergency generators are running out of power after almost a week of use.

Local politicians have criticized FEMA's response to the snowstorm, which took place last week.

"FEMA's tepid response to our region in the aftermath of this debilitating storm is inexcusable and borders on negligence," said Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY).

FEMA has headquartered their operation out of Albany, about 300 miles from Buffalo, from where they have sent teams into the Buffalo area to assess the damage. They also dispatched a public affairs official to Buffalo today to deal with the criticism.

Rep. Higgins questioned why FEMA officials didn't come to the city of Buffalo sooner, but did tour the suburbs which is part of Rep. Tom Reynolds' (R-NY) district, who is in a tight race for re-election.

"It is wholly unacceptable that the FEMA Regional Director surveyed suburban damage without touring the City of Buffalo and other hard-hit areas," said Rep. Higgins, "and it speaks to the unfortunate politicization of this once impeccably run agency."

FEMA says disaster teams are still assessing damage, and if they establish that the threshold, determined by the number of households impacted or destroyed and the cost of the damage, for a federal disaster has been met, then a declaration will be made, and citizens and public entities will be able to apply for reimbursement funds.

Army Corps of Engineers officials on the ground in Buffalo said today that power may not be restored until the end of this week, and they expect that requests for emergency generators for public facilities will rise quickly.

Almost 100 emergency generators are standing by just outside the city ready to serve soup kitchens, fire stations and other public facilities.

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