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Clinton County officials tour flooded areas as they work to get federal, state aid

Assemblyman D. Billy Jones toured flood damage in Clinton County, N.Y.
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Assemblyman D. Billy Jones toured flood damage in Clinton County, N.Y.

Northern New York is confronting significant damage from intense rain that has been falling since July 1. Clinton County officials took state representatives on a tour of damaged areas this week.

County legislators arranged the tour of flood damage with state Assemblyman D. Billy Jones and state Senator Dan Stec as they work to determine if the county has met the threshold to receive state and federal aid.

Legislature Chair Mark Henry explains it was a two-day tour across the hardest hit areas.

“We started in Plattsburgh and went on up through Saranac and up into Lyon Mountain and Dannemora and then down into Ellenburg and Ellenburg Center and gone down through and Mooers and Altona. And just saw the erosion and the devastation generally with culverts. And of course the Standish Road has two miles of it ripped right up. And then in addition to that of course we saw the homes that were affected, the farm fields that had been eroded away. One home a foundation collapsed. It’s just, water and trees down. It was amazing to see. It’s just so difficult to look at that and see all the destruction that’s happened.”

The tour was arranged because the county hopes to meet the threshold to obtain state and federal aid. Henry says there is millions in damage.

“We don’t know exactly how much yet, obviously. We’re still adding that all up. We believe that we have more than enough to hit any local thresholds that we need. We think the state will meet their thresholds for federal aid and we just are making the case that the county will not be able to foot the bill for this, nor of course will the towns. They have issues as well with the town roads and county roads and state roads. So we will be counting heavily on state and federal assistance to get these roads repaired or replaced in some cases. And obviously our state and federal officials will play a large role in ensuring that we can get the aid that we need.”

Assemblyman Jones, a Democrat who represents the 115th District, is one of the legislators the county is turning to for help. Jones says the infrastructure cannot handle the volume of water.

“What impressed me, and it always does, is the magnitude that Mother Nature can have on our infrastructure, on our residents. It’s really astounding. And obviously our friends down in the Hudson Valley my thoughts and prayers are with them. But we’ve been dealing with heavy rains since July, the afternoon of July 1st. For nine day’s it’s been unrelenting. My role quite fran kly is to help with the red tape, to advocate for money and resources and also to make sure that FEMA understands these events that we’ve been dealing with falls under one weather pattern that we’ve been dealing with.”

Town of Dannemora Supervisor Deb Coryer says there has been significant residential damage along with municipal infrastructure damage.

“We had a couple of roads that were washed out completely that weren’t passable until our highway department did some repair work. We did see a lot of private property damage, those people that were on the down-side of the hills and the mountain. The water that came off from those rainstorms just came rushing through and took out a lot of landscaping, driveways. We had a couple of houses that the water just ran through it because they were in the way of the water. We had a lot more, I believe, private damage than municipal damage but there was still pretty substantial road damage.”

Legislature Chair Henry notes that some towns were spared but the damage spans areas across the county.

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