As Schoharie County prepares to demolish more than 40 houses in flood-prone areas, another effort is getting under way to counter the damage floods inflicted on remaining houses in flood zones.
Federal grants will bring $400,000 in damage repair money to homeowners in the town of Esperance and another $400,000 will be available countywide for home repairs.
The recently announced federal Community Development Block Grants, administered locally by the Schoharie County Rural Preservation Corp., will be directed toward general repair projects costing as much as $25,000, program manager Dolores Jackson said.
Repairs to foundations, electrical upgrades and roof replacement are among possible projects that could be undertaken on properties in Esperance — a town with about 150 homes impacted by tropical storms Irene or Lee.
Many residents willing to pursue repairs have been identified, and outreach is under way to find more, Jackson said.
Esperance hosted a meeting last May to gauge interest in a possible program and learned there are plenty of homes in need of repairs.
“We have an extensive waiting list for the programs,” Jackson said.
The countywide grant will, in part, be directed toward flood victims as well through a partnership with Schoharie Area Long Term, which is coordinating post-Irene recovery in the Schoharie Valley.
Jackson said the countywide grant won’t be exclusively for flood victims, so people in Schoharie County unable to take advantage of CDBG grants for home repairs may be eligible.
SALT director Sarah Goodrich said the additional funding should help ease the flood’s impact on housing.
Putting money into rescuing residential character is an important step in maintaining local identity, she said.
“It certainly helps, particularly in some of these small villages that are primarily residential. Their housing is key to survival of these villages,” Goodrich said. “It’s essential, too, in terms of communities coming back — that whole sense of community in any village and for the county.”
SALT is conducting a survey in hopes of updating the status of flood-impacted properties and uncovering any homeowners whose needs haven’t been expressed.
Driving along main streets in Schoharie County, Goodrich said, doesn’t provide a good view of the extent of remaining damage. She estimates roughly 60 percent of those impacted by the 2011 floods aren’t recovered 100 percent.
“When you drive through, it’s almost an illusion in terms of where the recovery is,” she said.