Federal funds coming for Finger Lakes flood damage as clean-up continues

Local News

A month and a half later, clean-up efforts are still ongoing in the Finger Lakes after heavy storms brought floods. But now, federal help is on the way for residents.

FEMA has issued a major disaster declaration for the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier after significant flooding in August, President Trump announced Tuesday.

Some areas saw up to nine inches of rainfall during storms that swept through the region on August 14. The hardest hit areas were the southern Finger Lakes and Southern Tier.

Following the rain and flooding, state and federal leaders called on FEMA to declare a disaster to help communities recover. Tuesday, FEMA approved those requests. Now, local agencies in seven counties, including Seneca, and the state will have access to grants to help pay recovery costs related to the storm. Residents living on Seneca Lake hope the money helps them return things back to normal.

“If we could receive some help, everybody is looking for it down here and I’ve said it before, we’re not the type of people to ask for money,” says Michael Mott. “I mean, we’ve worked hard all our lives but this is a different situation.”

The money will be aimed at debris removal, emergency protective measures and permanent restoration of infrastructure. Under the program, the federal government will pay 75-percent of the costs associated with approved recovery projects. Neighbors say any aid directed at homeowners will go a far way.

“All the people down here that have suffered damage and that was just about everybody can easily use any kind of aid,” said Walter Depew. “If it’s $500, that would be great l, if it’s $5,000, even better and so on.”

Walter Depew is one of many neighbors who have put their own money into repairing their personal property but says the neighborhood is nowhere close to what it was before the storm. “The street is much different. It was a nice little area and everybody had their thing and look at the mess.”

Additional designations could be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by further damage assessments. Along with Seneca County, the disaster declaration also covers six other counties in New York state: Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler and Tioga counties.

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