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Mon., Aug. 31
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Lewis County’s flood-affected towns face disaster aid hurdle


PORT LEYDEN — When a storm dropped seven inches of rain in less than three hours in southern Lewis County last Thursday, it took out roads, washed away culverts, destroyed portions of a sewer system and wiped out train tracks.

Officials in affected municipalities met Tuesday afternoon to report progress and discuss continuing plans for cleanup and repair.

In addition to learning they have 24 hours to submit estimates for expected related costs, they received other news potentially as devastating as the storm itself.

The National Weather Service must consider this storm as part of a series that hit eight counties in Western New York last week for Lewis County municipalities to be eligible for federal aid, if it eventually is declared a disaster by President Barack Obama.

“So, if it doesn’t go in with them, we’re out on our own?” Lyonsdale Highway Superintendent Terry L. Swiernik asked.

The answer is yes.

Mr. Swiernik estimates his town’s costs are in the $3,000 to $4,000 range.

In the town of Leyden, Highway Superintendent Bruce W. Myers estimated approximately $12,000 in work has been done so far.

In the village of Port Leyden, Superintendent Robert Matuszczak tallies costs at $60,000 over the last week. With North Street still impassable and major reconstruction of sewer systems and streets to come, that number is expected to increase greatly.

County Highway Superintendent David L. Becker totals his current costs at just under $25,000, but that could double as work continues.

Michael Sprague, director of Central New York Regional IV of the state Office of Emergency Management, collected the information from the men.

He will submit the completed estimates, including data on residential home damage, to the National Weather Service by the 2 p.m. deadline today.

North Street is the only one still closed.

Residents on the hill between Elm Street and Quarry Street must park their vehicles and enter their homes on foot. Portable toilets and drinking water have been provided by the village.

A boil-water advisory is still in effect.

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