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Schoharie County to get back $3M spent on roads

FEMA reimbursement was not expected

Saturday, September 29, 2012
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— More than $3 million that Schoharie County has already spent to rebuild two roadways after last year’s flooding disasters will be coming back to the county following FEMA funding approvals announced Friday.

Hauverville and Bear Ladder roads cost about $1.97 million and $1.37 million, respectively, to put back together, according to an announcement from New York’s congressional representatives.

“I applaud FEMA for doing the right thing by stepping up to the plate and covering a significant piece of these recovery costs,” U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said in the announcement issued by the offices of Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam.

“This will go a long way towards relieving Schoharie’s financial burden, which they should not have to shoulder on their own,” Schumer said.

Flood recovery coordinator William Cherry, who is also county treasurer, said Friday the work had to be done in short order but the chances of getting federal reimbursement weren’t seen as too favorable.

Cherry said the county’s post-disaster consulting firm, Simmons Recovery, brought federal officials back to these sites numerous times to make the case that the work should be covered by disaster assistance.

“Here’s a case where [Simmons Recovery] really came to the forefront. FEMA’s original response was to be disinclined to reimburse the county,” Cherry said. “We believed right from the beginning we were certainly eligible for this FEMA funding. For some reason it was one of those projects where FEMA had to be convinced that that was the case.”

Hauverville Road in the town of Broome, just west of Albany County, sits along Lake Creek, which drains rainfall from mountainous terrain.

The roadway needed to be rebuilt in 23 different places where the creek took out culverts, shoulders and drainage ditches, leaving behind tons of debris and costing a total of $1,965,826.

Bear Ladder Road, which runs partly along the Schoharie Creek in the towns of Blenheim and Fulton, was washed out by the Schoharie Creek when it flooded from Tropical Storm Irene rainfall.

A total of $1,379,268 went into rebuilding the road, which entailed replacing seven culverts along a half-mile stretch of the road, repaving about 5.5 miles and removing rocks and other debris.

Cherry said FEMA’s approval carries with it more than the normal 75 percent funding, which in this case would add up to only $2,508,821. Typically, the remaining 25 percent of the cost of disaster declaration projects is shouldered by the municipality and the state at 12.5 percent each.

But the state agreed to cover the entire 25 percent, so the entire $3,345,094 will be covered.

“Certainly the New York congressional alliance was very supportive in getting FEMA back to the table, along with Simmons Recovery. They all deserve credit,” Cherry said.

 
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