October 5, 2010


County tallying flood damage

FloodBob Ellis/staff photographer
A broken window frame lies on the side of North Tower Road in Solon Friday morning.

Staff Reporter

Cortland County sustained enough damage to public roads and buildings during Friday’s storm to qualify for disaster assistance but it remains to be seen whether the statewide damage threshold of $24 million was met, which will determine if federal assistance is given.
Brenda DeRusso, the county’s Fire and Emergency Management assistant coordinator, said Monday afternoon the county totaled well over the $157,000 threshold for the state to include Cortland in its application for federal disaster funding.
The threshold, set by the state, is a level dictated by population and a $3.23 per capita cost. Since Cortland’s population as of the last census was 48,599, the threshold for the county to qualify for funding is $156,975, DeRusso said.
DeRusso was collecting preliminary damage estimates from municipalities Monday to submit to the state Office of Emergency Management.
Preliminary estimates were not available by press time this morning since DeRusso was still awaiting feedback from four municipalities.
In order for the federal disaster to be declared, statewide damages must total $24 million and DeRusso is not confident there was enough damage in other counties for that threshold to be met.
According to DeRusso, Cortland, Broome, Tompkins and St. Lawrence counties and some counties in the Hudson Valley region were impacted by the storm.
DeRusso said the State Office of Emergency Management will compile all the preliminary damage assessment reports from all the counties that were impacted and then submit the report to Gov. David Paterson.
“If they don’t get $24 million it will stop at the governor’s desk. Only a federal declaration will bring the serious dollars in here,” she said.
DeRusso said without a federal declaration, the burden falls to the state to provide disaster relief and she pointed to the state’s fiscal crisis, saying it is unlikely the funding would be given.
DeRusso said funding the repairs would be challenging for many municipalities, noting damages total more than the entire highway department budget in some towns.
DeRusso said it could take up to two months before the president decides the damage qualifies for federal disaster funding. In the meantime, local municipalities are cleaning up the damage left in the wake of the storm that dumped between 4 and 6.5 inches of rainfall in the county.
The rainfall and flooding left pockets of “significant damage” to roads along a majority of Cortland County, according to county Highway Superintendent Don Chambers.
“All the county roads are open at this point, but we have damage that needs to be addressed,” Chambers said Monday.
Roads in the worst shape included Maybury Road in Solon and North Tower Road in Cortlandville, he said. Highway department crews worked Monday to repair parts of North Tower Road. Debris left by the flooding along area roads and bridges was cleared away by Friday and Saturday.
The highway department is in the process of preparing an estimated time line and cost for repairs.
“We’re cataloging where all the damage is, we’re going to develop a report in the next day or two,” Chambers said.
DeRusso hung up with Lapeer Highway Superintendent George Courtney early Monday afternoon, directing him to get an estimated cost of damages incurred, which included a large culvert that was washed out on Quail Hollow Road.
Material, equipment and manpower were the costs DeRusso was directing superintendents to keep track of.
DeRusso urges people who have flood damage to photograph the damage, keep all receipts from work done and equipment used, and contact her at 607-753-5065 to detail the damage.


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