By Nathan Mayberg
WURTSBORO September 7, 2004 United States Congressman Maurice Hinchey arrived in Wurtsboro Friday to view the immense destruction caused by floods last week.
Speaking at the Town of Mamakating Hall, Hinchey said he would be urging Governor George Pataki to declare a state of emergency for the area, so that the county, town and property owners may receive aid for over $11 million in estimated damage. Once the governor makes the declaration, he may apply to the federal government for aid.
Hincheys office provided a list of several forms of aid for individual property owners, including FEMA low-interest loans and grants of up to $25,000 per individual or household.
The news will not likely be consoling to several homeowners who lacked flood insurance and were not pleased with proposals of loans to cover the loss of their homes, valued as high as half a million dollars in some cases.
Richard Martinkovic, Civil Defense Coordinator for the countys Civil Defense & Natural Disaster Preparedness, estimated the damage to property owners to be over $3 million, but that number could be much higher. He noted that several homes had not been inspected due to their seasonal nature.
Drinking water was also an issue. Several speakers, including Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, expressed concerns over drinking water in the area. Martinkovic said local residents have been advised not to drink the water. The New York State Department of Health will be assisting the Town of Mamakating in conducting tests of the water.
Leisure Time Ice and Spring Water and ShopRite donated truckloads of water, said Martinkovic. The water is available to all those affected by the floods and can be obtained at the Westbrookville Firehouse.
Gunther said she was shocked by the damage and offered her deepest sympathies to those affected.
She was also worried about debris scattered throughout the area, which could cause further damage in case of another storm next week. Martinkovic said the matter is being attended to as best as possible. He added that the ground is currently so saturated that water is not being absorbed.
According to Martinkovic, about 60 inmates from the Otisville and Sullivan correctional facilities are assisting local residents and volunteers in removing boulders and other debris from their homes and the roads.
The Sullivan County Department of Public Works, firefighters, the New York State Police, the New York State Department of Transportation and the American Red Cross are among a long list of those that continue to address the horrific damage.
For more information, contact the town at 888-3002 or online at www.mamakating.org.