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Southern Lewis County included for possible FEMA funding


PORT LEYDEN — A May 22 flash flood that destroyed roads and a portion of a sewer system in southern Lewis County has been included in a storm system that tallied approximately $28 million in damage statewide.

The inclusion, made by the National Weather Service, makes affected municipalities eligible for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to repay 75 percent of related disaster costs.

For now, a report of the damage awaits a disaster declaration from President Barack Obama.

Lewis County Emergency Services Director James M. Martin said an answer should come in a week or less.

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Lewis County was one of 11 counties in central and western New York for which he is seeking a federal major disaster declaration. The other affected counties are Alleghany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Delaware, Herkimer, Livingston, Ontario, Otsego, Steuben and Yates. A damage assessment validated state and county expenditures of more than $28 million in response and recovery efforts to storms and flooding, Gov. Cuomo’s office said.

Local damage has been estimated in the $1.5 million to $2 million range, with the bulk of costs attributed to a road washout and sewer system damage in the village of Port Leyden.

Lewis County and the towns of Leyden and Lyonsdale also sustained damage.

“They really all worked well together,” Mr. Martin said of the affected municipalities.

Some blacktop, paving and shoulder work still has to be completed; however, “the majority of the work is behind us,” Mr. Martin said.

Ongoing projects will continue to be funded by disaster aid if awarded, including damaged waterlines in Port Leyden.

A recent video scan of waterlines revealed damage to pipes allowing surface water to leak in.

Mr. Martin said the president’s declaration depends on funding available, noting numerous recent disasters across the U.S. may affect the pool of money available.

On occasion, a federal disaster declaration will prompt disaster funding from New York state.

“Sometimes the state will pick up 12 and a half percent, leaving 12 and a half for the municipalities to pay of their 25 percent,” he said, though “nothing is guaranteed.”

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