900+ NY homes damaged

At least 200 homes are destroyed in New York state, and at least 700 others have major damage in the wake of flooding earlier this month.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | April 16, 2005



"The impact from these storms was devastating and widespread and is magnified by the fact that many of these areas were just beginning to recover from similar flooding late last summer."

—Gov. George Pataki


At least 200 homes are destroyed in New York state, and at least 700 others have major damage in the wake of flooding earlier this month.

That number is likely to grow as assessments continue, responders said, and many residents are still in limbo as they wait for the verdict on whether their homes have been condemned or if they’re salvageable.

It’s likely the affected counties will receive a federal disaster declaration, said one Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) official.

"But FEMA checks won’t be enough, he warned. “The aid is going to be inadequate in in many cases, because the average income of the people involved in this is very low,” he said. “It simply won’t be enough if you’re a low-income home owner.”

It will fall to local and national charities to pitch in to help with the unmet needs, he said. “That’s where the community comes in - and the national charitable agencies, too.” New York’s flood woes come amid other severe spring flooding that has received more media attention and more public donor awareness.

But that doesn’t mean relief groups in New York state aren’t hard at work, forging relationships and exchanging information. New York’s responding groups are tightly linked within the state Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) coalition.

Already, groups such as Catholic Charities, Church World Service, Mennonite Disaster Service, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Salvation Army, United Methodist Committee on Relief, and American Red Cross, among several others, are on the ground assisting with relief efforts and also planning for long-term recovery.

Donations management was already becoming a concern in some flood-affected counties. “I’ve got 18-wheeler after 18-wheeler coming with donations,” said one local responder. “I’ve got 10-and-a-half pallets of cranberry-raspberry juice. I’ve got body wipes in bulk.”

County officials and VOAD members were collaborating to distribute and store donations.

Should a FEMA declaration occur, people will have 60 days to register with FEMA. New York Gov. George Pataki has asked President Bush to declare 14 counties federal disaster areas, making them eligible for federal aid. “The impact from these storms was devastating and widespread and is magnified by the fact that many of these areas were just beginning to recover from similar flooding late last summer,” Pataki said. “The raging floodwaters caused the unfortunate loss of lives, forced hundreds of New Yorkers from their homes, destroyed hundreds of residences, and damaged hundreds more.”

Gov. Pataki is requesting federal assistance for the following counties: Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Greene, Montgomery, Orange, Otsego, Rensselaer, Schenectady, Schoharie, Sullivan, Tioga and Ulster.

At least 91 homes were destroyed in Ulster County, 24 were destroyed in Orange County, and another 23 were demolished in Broome County.


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