Federal government approves support for New York counties hit by Lake Ontario flood damage (VIDEO)


Federal government approves support for New York counties hit by Lake Ontario flood damage (VIDEO)

Multiple New York counties will soon receive federal assistance to repair damage connected to flooding this spring and summer off of Lake Ontario.The declaration by President Donald J. Trump that a “major disaster” took place from May 2 to Aug. 6 will allow for federal funding to help emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities in Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties.Other areas supported by the federal support are Niagara, Orleans and Wayne counties.According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal support may include coverage of at least 75 percent of costs for removing debris, implementing emergency protective measures, repairing or replacing damaged public facilities and roads and launching hazard mitigation projects.State officials have already pledged $45 million to support repairs as water levels reached record highs this year, with an additional promise by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to help “every impacted New Yorker get back on their feet.”About 1,200 applications have been filed with Neighbors of Watertown for property damage in Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego counties, according to the office of state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton.U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer called the funding a “massive and well-deserved shot in the arm for many lakefront counties.”He also vowed to fight for similar support for Monroe and Cayuga counties, which were not a part of the White House approval.Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, thanked the Trump administration and FEMA for the support, and said the funding “will go a long way toward helping rebuild and bolster properties for future disasters.”Colin Brennan, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said the money was a “good first step” that will supplement state funds.“However, there is more work to be done and we will not stop fighting until this declaration is expanded to ensure that Monroe and Cayuga counties receive the assistance they need and deserve,” he said.This year’s flooding has spurred contentious debate about the International Joint Commission and its Plan 2014, which went into effect this year.Gov. Cuomo spent the spring and summer in a war of words with the commission, first blaming the plan, then the commission’s decision-making, for the state’s flooding issues. He said the binational commission prioritized Canadian interests and shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway over residents on the lake’s southern shore.IJC officials have said the flooding was a result of intense rain and runoff, which in April and May broke the rainfall record for any two consecutive months. They have also said that they had no way of predicting the influx of water and no mechanism to do so last winter even if they had known.State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos told a radio show that high water levels would have happened “even under the old regime,” referring to Plan 2014’s predecessor, Plan 1958-DD.The IJC said they will assess this year’s flooding in a report that’s expected to come out next year.Still, debate has raged.A meeting about the flooding drew a large crowd to Mexico High School in October, with many of them that booing and jeering at officials from the IJC.Sen. Schumer told Orleans County residents he was skeptical of the IJC’s implementation of the lake-level plan, according to the Orleans Hub.“We have to do something,” he said. “They screwed it up.”U.S. Rep. Christopher C. Collins, R-Lancaster, said there are selections to fill the three American spots on the commission, and that the group likely opposes Plan 2014.Water levels on Lake Ontario were measured by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 245.66 feet on Monday, more than a foot above the 244.35 feet average seen in November 2016.
Source: Watertown Daily Times Latest News
Federal government approves support for New York counties hit by Lake Ontario flood damage (VIDEO)

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