Schenectady County

Municipalities must pay flood repair costs

Several municipalities in Schenectady County hit by more than $3 million in damages from back-to-bac

Several municipalities in Schenectady County hit by more than $3 million in damages from back-to-back heavy rainstorms in late July will have to foot the repair bills themselves, local officials said Tuesday.

Damage estimates across the county exceed $3 million, according to preliminary figures. Municipalities had counted on state assistance to offset these costs. But the state did not meet the threshold to declare a disaster, which would have qualified it for federal assistance, said Dennis Michalski of the state Emergency Management Office.

“We are still working with counties and we are at a little over $15 million statewide. To put in a request for federal disaster assistance, we need $23 million,” Michalski said.

As a result, he said, Schenectady County and municipalities within it will not receive any state assistance for their cleanup efforts.

The county itself sustained $2.7 million in damage, said William VanHoesen, director of emergency management for Schenectady County.

Delanson is looking at at least $200,000 in damage to the McMillan Well, a transmission line between the upper and lower reservoirs that supplies water to the village. Glenville is looking at $100,000 in damage.

Schenectady County easily reached the local threshold of $500,000, said Joe Ryan, county director of public works. “I have serious problems with bridge abutments, shoulder washouts and damage to culverts,” he said. “These are long-term problems.”

Ryan said he was forced to divert the county’s entire $3 million road program budget for 2008 to fix the damages. “I’m using capital dollars for permanent fixes. It would have been used for paving this year,” he said.

Ryan plans to add money for road paving into future budgets, provided there aren’t any more damaging storms this year. “We will stabilize areas and get roads open and fix bridges. We are dealing with safety issues as a priority,” he said.

Wolf Hollow Road remains closed indefinitely. The road is a connector and has no residents, so Ryan said it isn’t a high priority.

Culvert bridges over Old Highway 30 and Muselbeck Road still need to be repaired, and roads over them have limited or no access, Ryan said. He expects to have both culvert bridges repaired within several weeks.

Delanson Mayor Susan Burns was unaware the county had not qualified for disaster assistance when contacted Tuesday. She said she plans to consult with the town’s engineer on how best to repair McMillan Well. Without state aid, the village will have to pay for the project itself, she said.

Glenville Town Administrator Tony Germano said the town sustained $100,000 in damage from the July 23-25 storms, mostly to roads. He had hoped to receive state assistance.

“We will have to do the work ourselves. It is time and material. We don’t have money in the budget for this. I don’t think any community budgeted for [the storm damage],” he said.

Dawson Road was severely damaged by the storm and requires repairs, and many culverts need to be cleaned out, Germano said.

Residents also experienced private property damage, which is a separate category of damage.

VanHoesen said the storms damaged foundations and structures and flooded basements. “We have tried to find funds for them with no luck,” he said.

“We know there are people out there with significant damage and we are not able to help. This is a frustration. I am not optimistic of getting anything to help these people,” VanHoesen said.

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