A major disaster declaration has been issued by the federal government for the 18 counties -- including Oneida, Madison and Herkimer -- that sustained damage during the severe storms and flash flooding on Halloween.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says FEMA has validated state and local government estimates that more than $33 million in response costs and infrastructure damage was incurred.

Cuomo says the approval is the next step toward gaining financial assistance from the federal government to allow local communities to continue to recover and rebuild.

Through FEMA's Public Assistance Program, reimbursement can be received for activities including debris removal and the repairing and rebuilding of publicly-owned infrastructure.

"The federal government has validated our experts' assessments on the damage this storm caused to public infrastructure, but it is only the first step in getting the assistance we need to help these communities build back," Governor Cuomo said.

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