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More help for Irene reconstruction

July 14, 2012
By staff ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

ALBANY - Essex and Franklin counties will receive nearly $1 million in flood mitigation grants through the state's NY Works program.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that $9 million will be awarded to 23 counties where waterways were severely damaged by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The state is also providing $7 million in funding so counties can meet their 25 percent non-federal match requirements for eligible federally funded stream restoration projects through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Essex and Franklin County will get $500,000 and $473,000 in grants funds, respectively.

All together, $16 million from New York state is leveraging $44 million in federal and local funding to complete emergency watershed protection and flood reduction projects in 26 counties.

"NY Works funding is critical to rebuilding our infrastructure and creating jobs across the state," Cuomo said in a press release. "Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee were two of the most devastating flooding events in New York's history and this grant funding and the assisting match funds are important components of the overall, on-going flood recovery effort and should help communities across the state address the most immediate flood impacts and assist in mitigating future flood damage."

"Restoring streams will go a long way to minimize damage from future storm events," Joe Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said the release. "Working with DEC, local communities will now have the needed funds to prevent future damage to property, infrastructure and the environment."

Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas, who chairs the Essex County Board of Supervisors, said he was "most gracious" to Cuomo and Martens for "once again coming to the aid of Essex County residents affected by Tropical Storm Irene." The town of Jay has racked up some $3 million in debt for reconstruction of roads, water and sewer infrastructure and youth facilities.

"The Governor's announcement of Essex County receiving $500,000 from the Flood Mitigation Grant Program couldn't have come at a better time," Douglas said in the release. "Asking our residents to finance the removal of washed up debris on private properties is the straw that broke the camel's back."

The funding will be used for things like stream bank stabilization and restoration, reconnecting streams to their natural flood plain through removal of berms, replacing undersized culvert pipes with larger box culverts or arched bridges, removing debris and gravel from culvert pipes and bridges, and restoring stream channels to their pre-flood dimensions and characteristics.

DEC conducted a thorough review and evaluation of all applications and the proposed projects to determine grant awards. The state worked with NRCS to determine additional necessary projects in need of non-federal matching funds.



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