Irene: Schoharie County collecting on flood insurance…just in time

Money to help pay for flood damage is starting to flow into Schoharie County, and not a moment too s

Money to help pay for flood damage is starting to flow into Schoharie County, and not a moment too soon, according to county Treasurer William Cherry.

Up until two weeks ago, the only money the devastated county saw came from its insurance company, the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal.

The county’s NYMIR policy provided maximum building damage coverage of $1 million, plus $250,000 for “contents.”

NYMIR sent the county that money three days after the flood, Cherry said.

The cost of the damage far exceeded that. But the county was also insured through the National Flood Insurance Program, which, within the last two weeks, has provided the county with $3,133,000.

More money is expected — total coverage is between $4.5 million and $5 million, Cherry said.

The county has also begun seeing money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through its disaster assistance program.

As of Thursday, Cherry said, FEMA has paid $1,942,000 to fulfill claims for bills the county has already paid — such as the more than $1 million paid to the Montgomery-Otsego-Schoharie Solid Waste Management Authority to dispose of the tons of flood debris gathered after tropical storms Irene and Lee.

That’s just a fraction of what the county hopes to get from FEMA. Cherry said the county is developing roughly $25 million worth of “project worksheets,” 75 percent of the cost of which FEMA might cover.

The county had already borrowed $10 million in the wake of the storms to keep government operating, and the arrival of FEMA’s initial $1.9 million came just in time, he said.

“It eased the cash flow situation in early February. We were scraping the bottom of the barrel,” Cherry said.

He said it’s unlikely all of the funding sought would cover even half the cost of the damage.

The Schoharie Creek took out the jail at the Public Safety Building. It’s still shuttered, and prisoners are being sent to Albany County, though the upper floor is now re-occupied by some offices.

The County Building on Main Street is partially re-opened, with the Department of Social Services and the county Board of Supervisors working there, but other offices, including the Health Department, Real Property and County Clerk, remain scattered about the county.

The massive scope of the disaster brought on by Tropical Storm Irene is expected to generate more than 8,000 project worksheets statewide from governments in 31 New York counties, according to FEMA spokesman Dennis Michalski.

Tropical Storm Lee, declared a disaster in 14 counties, is expected to lead to as many as 2,000 project worksheets, he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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