MALONE - Franklin County officials are hoping another look at Tupper Lake will increase the chances of a successful appeal for federal money to help flood victims.
The state won Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to repair municipal infrastructure after flooding that occurred across the North Country this spring but was turned down for funding that would help individual home and business owners who were affected.
But county Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost said last week that he's hoping a second visit by FEMA officials to Tupper Lake could help in the appeals process.
They first visited when much of Tupper Lake was still underwater, so they never saw the extent of the mold and other flood-related damage, Provost said. He said he and others had believed they had returned at some point without announcing their visit to assess the damage once homes were no longer underwater, but that never actually happened.
Unlike with the municipal funding, there is no cut-and-dried threshold for the amount of damage needed for the federal government to award individual assistance money. But with other natural disasters on a larger scale across the country this spring - including tornados, wildfires and larger floods - New York's flooding didn't look so bad to FEMA officials, Provost said.
"It didn't meet what they felt was a major disaster," Provost said.
If the county can increase the amount of damage it can claim, it might help the state have a better chance in its appeal.
One problem, though, is that many homeowners and business owners have now already put a lot of work into their homes, so FEMA officials won't see how bad they were.
"Unfortunately, some of the work's already done," Provost said. "Some of these people couldn't wait."
But he's hoping that showing them photos of the damage at its worst will help.
Even if the money does come through after an appeal, the maximum grant FEMA would pay to an individual is $35,000, Provost said.
"Some of these homes are damaged well beyond the $35,000 mark," Provost said.