(TNS) - New York state officials and lawmakers are working to get more help to areas along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River affected by severe flooding.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state Department of Financial Services is setting up mobile command centers to provide assistance to residents in affected areas, and he has requested assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The USACE later said it would activate four-person field teams, consisting of hydraulic and hydrology engineers, geotechnical engineers, coastal engineers, and operation and technical service personnel, that can be deployed to flood zones.
“Water levels are continuing to rise, threatening homes and businesses in the Lake Ontario region,” Gov. Cuomo said. “By deploying these mobile command centers to help residents with insurance claims, we continue to take aggressive action to protect the people who live and work in the affected communities.”
Thus far, more than 771,000 sandbags have been delivered to shoreline communities, including 70,000 for Jefferson County alone. Also deployed to Jefferson County was a crew of inmates from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to help fill sandbags.
In St. Lawrence County, 10,000 sandbags have been delivered, and 60,000 have been delivered to Oswego County.
Gov. Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence and Wayne counties last week for repair and reconstruction efforts. The governor also sent a Lake Ontario Rapid Response Team to the area comprised of members from the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, State Police and Office of General Services.
State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, has also cosponsored legislation to expedite state assistance.
The bill would accelerate the availability of emergency funding under the Clean Water Infrastructure Act of 2017, slashing the 120-day wait period for funding availability.
As it stands, municipalities in need of funding will have to wait until Aug. 18.
“It is critical that we move as quickly as possible to provide the increased resources communities need to respond to damage caused by rising waters as well as protect public health and safety,” Sen. Ritchie said.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously and will go to the Assembly next.
Residents who are affected by flooding and in need of assistance are encouraged to contact the state’s Flood Assistance Hotline at 866-244-3839.
©2017 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.)
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