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Katrina Throws Wrench
Into Flood Repairs

By Jeanne Sager
LIVINGSTON MANOR — September 20, 2005 – Hurricane Katrina didn’t hit Sullivan County, but it’s causing extra hardship for one local town.
The Town of Rockland is still rebuilding its road system after Hurricane Ivan dumped massive amounts of rain on the area a year ago and an April storm flooded the downtowns of both Livingston Manor and Roscoe.
But during Thursday’s Town of Rockland Board meeting, officials said they’re also still waiting for funding from FEMA.
“Because of the Gulf Coast disaster, I’m assuming this money is going to be pretty slow to get,” said Supervisor Pat Pomeroy.
The town is all set to buy a bond that pays for its projects – already the town is in debt for $400,000 in disaster repairs.
“FEMA’s making us borrow money to get our roads fixed,” Pomeroy explained.
According to Highway Superintendent Bowman Owen, the problem was worsened by the April floods because work he did after September, work that FEMA had yet to review and pay for, was destroyed in April.
“I’m having a terrible struggle with [FEMA],” Owen said. “We’re not going to get the money we should be getting.”
Flood repairs have taken precedent over other projects, he added, because they have to be done.
“There’s a lot of projects, Pat, that I’m not going to get done,” he said.
“I don’t have the money anymore,” Owen explained. “I’m in this situation where God forbid we have another flood.
“It makes trying to run an operation tough,” he said. “You don’t know if you have money to pay for it.”
The town needs money to get through the rest of the winter, the time when the highway department puts in much of its manhours trying to keep the streets clear of snow.
“We’re going into overtime money for snow, and we need to be able to call those guys out at 2 o’clock in the morning,” Pomeroy said.
To alleviate some of the funding crunch, the board unanimously approved a referendum granting Owen permission to talk with the county’s Department of Public Works about the town’s snow removal contract.
The town is currently contracted to plow 26.85 miles of county roads.
The county has not raised the amount it pays the town for that service in at least three years, even with costs increasing.
The current deal provides $4,200 a year to the town per mile of county road plowed by town workers.
“We went over that budget last year, we went over it the year before,” Owen said.
“We can’t do it with the price of gas,” Pomeroy noted.
Owen said with money as tight as it is in the Town of Rockland, the only options left are to give roads back to the county or to cut services.
“I don’t have the manpower to run two crews,” he said.
The reduction in maintenance on some of the county’s roads will not affect the town’s own snow removal program negatively, Owen added.
“We’ll get them done quicker, and we won’t use as much salt,” he added.
Pomeroy expressed a concern that the town’s two main business districts would lose some of their services, but Owen said both Livingston Manor’s and Roscoe’s main drags are already plowed by county trucks.

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