U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nita Lowey and several other officials toured Rye’s downtown business district on Monday morning, thanking local police and hearing from business owners hard hit by flooding.
The two toured with a coterie of state, county and city leaders all in need of federal disaster assistance funds.
County Executive Rob Astorino, Legislator Judy Myers, and State Assemblyman George Latimer, Rye Mayor Doug French and Councilwoman Paula Gamache all accompanied Gillibrand and Lowey on the tour.
While the event was straightforward: meet and greet local police, walk and talk through downtown while stopping into local businesses, the most interesting undercurrent of the visit was the jockeying between local leaders to have their priorities heard by Sen. Gillibrand.
At a press conference outside Rye Country Store, Senator Gillibrand said it was important that leaders from the local area “work as a team” with county, state and federal government to get the necessary resources for local recovery.
Gillibrand said she already persuaded President Obama to declare Westchester County a federal disaster area, qualifying it and local business owners for certain funds. She urged state and county officials to make a bipartisan appeal to President Obama for assistance and loans to restore the area.
At the county level, that assistance could come in the form of reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of any money spent to restore area streets, roads, bridges and other public assets.
County Executive Rob Astorino said “Westchester County is currently in an assessment phase.” If the county’s expenses exceed $3 million, the federal government would reimburse as much as 75 percent of the money spent.