FEMA: No flood relief for homeowners

Posted at: 07/16/2013 12:00 AM
By: Dan Levy

FORT PLAIN - The official word came from Washington late Monday that New York residents affected by recent flooding will not be eligible for FEMA relief. That's obviously not the news that hundreds of families in the Mohawk Valley were hoping to hear, families that remain in a precarious state of limbo.

That news was not unexpected. Governor Cuomo, in recent days, hinted that FEMA relief wasn't looking good, apparently seeing to it that  people didn't get their hopes up. But even though the governor's premonition came true, there's still hope for people in Fort Plain and in other flood damaged communities.

Monday marked a significant milestone for Kern Bridgewater. Nineteen days after the Otsquago Creek ravaged his Reid Street home, he was finally able to get the electricity turned back on. The problem now is that there's no hot water heater, no air conditioning, and no kitchen appliances.

"If we don't get help, I'm tapped out," said Kern Bridgewater, a construction contractor who took the last two and a half weeks off to work on his own house. "I spent my last money this week, getting the electric put on."

Like so many other Fort Plain residents, Bridgewater was banking on the federal government, FEMA, to step up and bail out homeowners like they did for business owners and municipalities.

"Yes, we need help with the businesses and we need help with the infrastructure," Bridgewater concedes, "but if there's no one here, what's the sense of fixing those things?"

Fort Plain Mayor Guy Barton says he's shocked the feds didn't come through for individual residents in his village, but he's encouraged that Governor Cuomo, while visiting the area last week, and reiterating his intentions on Monday, wsid the state will "provide whatever is needed so New Yorkers can rebuild their lives and their homes."

"I have no reason not to believe (the governor)," Barton said, "We just want to see action."

The mayor emphasizes the urgency of swift action pointing out more than 51 Fort Plain homes have been condemned.

"I have many people that have half their clothes in their car and half their clothes in their house," Barton says.

Barton says he expects to meet with Governor Cuomo later this week and hopes to be able to convey the urgency with which state money is desperately needed by so many homeowners.