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USDA sends flood-relief funds to N.Y.

$41 million released by Feds

January 19, 2012
By JOHN R. BECKER , The Leader Herald

Two Montgomery County supervisors say they are pleased the federal Department of Agriculture has released $41 million for local flood-related repairs in New York.

The state will receive $37.8 million from the USDA's Emergency Watershed Protection program, which will be used to provide funding and technical assistance to clear debris from stream channels, fix damaged drainage facilities, reshape and protect eroded banks and other activities that address public safety and restoration efforts on public and private land, according to a news release.

Another $3.93 million will be allocated to New York through the USDA's Emergency Conservation Program, which provides emergency funding and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters.

"While it is not a panacea, resources will now be available," said U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, who announced the funding in a news release.

"A lot of people in the town of Mohawk have had their land compromised by the floods," Mohawk Supervisor Greg Rajkowski said this morning. "I've had people show me photos of what their land looked like five years ago and what it looks like now. They've lost acres of farmland."

Rajkowski said the floods created "a lot of issues" for the town.

"The culvert near the Frothingham Library needs to be cleared," he said. "The culvert near our transfer station needs to be cleared out."

Rajkowski applauded Congress and the USDA for making the money available.

"It's a great thing they're doing," he said. "When you figure you've got all that debris on your land, for the government to come up with 75 percent of the cost is a great relief."

Glen Supervisor Lawrence Coddington said this morning he is pleased to hear the money is available, although no dollar amounts are mentioned for specific locations.

"It's directed at the agricultural community, obviously," he said. "There are no real specifics in there, but anything that can help the town and the farmers is appreciated."

Local farmers will benefit from the release of the money as well, Coddington said.

"There's money that goes directly to farmers," he said. "There may be something local farmers can use."

Coddington noted that the release of the money requires a 25 percent local match.

"The 75-25 matching thing brings up the question of where the other 25 percent will come from," he said.

Charleston Supervisor Shayne Walters, chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, was unavailable for comment this morning.

In December, supervisors approved a contract with Mayfield-based Delaney Group for $605,000 to remove debris from the Schoharie Creek and regrade the creek in the hamlet of Burtonville after the flooding, which destroyed or seriously damaged a dozen homes.

A change order pushed the cost of the project to more than $732,000. The change order was necessary because an island at the southern end of the project area in Charleston was destroyed by flood waters. Rocks from the island filled in the channel where excess water would otherwise go. The extent of the problem could not be seen until the flood waters receded, Walters said at that time.

Federal and state aid will pay 87.5 percent of the cost of the Burtonville cleanup project; the county is responsible for the remaining 12.5 percent. According to the resolution, the county's $91,578 share will come from the fund balance.

John R. Becker covers Montgomery County news. He can be reached at



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