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NY struggles after flood

Residents in one flood-ravaged New York county are still lacking recovery assistance.

BY HEATHER MOYER | WOODHULL, N.Y. | October 29, 2004

Residents in one flood-ravaged New York county are still lacking recovery assistance one month after hurricane remnants drenched the East Coast.

In the first two weeks of September, three separate flooding events hit Steuben County. According to Timothy Marshall, deputy director of Steuben County's Office of Emergency Services, the county has identified 75 homes with damage from the floods. Marshall said the damage goes from minimal basement flooding to total destruction. The community of Woodhull suffered the worst damage, added Marshall, with 25 homes damaged.

"And we're sure there's more out there that we haven't seen yet," he said. "Our county is very large, so it's hard to get a handle on all the damage that's out there."

Steuben County covers 2,000 square miles in southwestern New York.

Two of the flood disasters received federal disaster declarations for public assistance, but none received declarations for individual assistance - leaving many residents wondering where to turn for help. Right now the county is waiting word on an appeal for individual assistance, but Marshall said they are unsure when – or if – the decision will be made.

In the meantime, Marshall's office is working with towns across the county to get more details on any as yet unreported damage. He remains worried that at this point, some residents may have decided to move on by themselves rather than waiting to see what help they might receive or even reporting their damage to authorities. With colder weather setting in, he wonders how those who lost crucial appliances will cope.

"Many suffered loss of furnaces and hot water tanks, which are not covered by homeowners insurance unless they had flood insurance, which many do not," Marshall explained in an email sent to the state human services agencies. He added, "We're really hoping our federal appeal will come. But right now we're working with the state and local groups to identify resources for the families."

Frustration and stress are setting in for the families, he said, noting that his office is now also looking into counseling options.

Marshall also knows Steuben County is not alone in this struggle. “There are other counties in the state that are in the same position as us.”


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