Flood-devastated homeowners in Fort Plain and surrounding communities will receive compensation from the state in the same amount the federal government would have provided, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday.
“I’ve said from the beginning that if the federal government didn’t help, the state would step up,” he said. “I said we would, and we will.”
In all, $16 million in state money is allocated to flood victims across five counties, Cuomo said Wednesday at a news conference at Herkimer County Community College in Herkimer. A quarter of that funding is earmarked for Montgomery County, mainly the village of Fort Plain.
Cuomo said the state will use the same funding guidelines as the Federal Emergency Management Agency would have used, had FEMA not decided to deny assistance to private property owners.
“People who want a buyout, we’ll reimburse them for 100 percent of their home’s market value before the flood,” he said.
Farmers and business owners also will receive state help Cuomo said FEMA should have provided.
A crowd of local officials, including Fort Plain Mayor Guy Barton, gathered at the news conference to show their approval, applauding Cuomo’s commitment. Cuomo laughed at the many compliments.
“You know why they really want me here today?” he said, laying a pen over a few documents. “To sign the checks.”
From the audience, Barton shouted, “I hope that’s not invisible ink.”
“Do me a favor, don’t cash them yet,” Cuomo replied.
Considering the scope of the damage, $4 million might seem a relatively small amount of money, but Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Adam Schwabrow said it will go a long way.
“FEMA doesn’t usually give homeowners more than about $31,000 to help with repairs,” he said. “If the state works like FEMA, it will go a long way.”
Whether the money will cover Fort Plain’s estimated 25 condemned homes and more than 30 displaced businesses, Schwabrow couldn’t say.
“Politicians make some really nice promises,” he said. “In this case, so far so good.”
Barton was also cautiously pleased with the announcement.
“I don’t think it’s enough,” he said, “but it’s a really good start.”
Cuomo did not mention in his announcement where the $16 million is coming from, but Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, said the state planned for such a contingency.
“My understanding is that this is money set aside earlier in the year for a situation such as this,” he said.
Santabarbara also said homeowners will be able to apply for aid in the next two or three days.
Local officials will likely get more information at the Build Back Better flood conference taking place in Albany today.
For more information or to pre-apply for aid, visit www.governor.ny.gov or call the New York State Flood Helpline at 1-888-769-7243.