The weekend's storm caught New York City as a glancing blow, giving residents an initial sense of relief. But as the extent of damage upstate becomes apparent, President Barack Obama has signed off on an order declaring parts of the state major disaster areas, as flooding and damaged infrastructure persist, particularly in the Catskills. The New York Times explains the significance of the disaster designation:
The major disaster declaration makes federal money available to residents of eight upstate counties that were hit particularly hard. The money can be used for temporary housing and home repairs, and for low-cost loans to pay for property losses that were not covered by insurance, among other things.
Federal funds will also be available to the state and to local governments upstate, and in the New York City area and on Long Island, to cover some of the costs they incurred in responding to the storm.
Especially hard-hit have been some of the upstate farms that provide produce to a lot of New York City's greenmarkets and restaurants. The Times reported on Tuesday that farms established in fertile flood plains have had crops destroyed and livestock killed at the worst possible time, when harvesting of the year's bounty is in high-gear. "In some spots, orange orbs were eerily visible underwater during flyovers by state officials--a vestige of the season’s pumpkin crop." That means some of the restaurants that regularly feature local produce, like the well-known Blue Hill, where Obama ate early in his presidency, will have to make alternate plans to source ingredients.
Obama also declared disasters in Vermont and North Carolina. On Wednesday, Vermont Public Radio reported that emergency crews were hoping to reach communities isolated by flooding by the end of the day.