By Andy Simek
LIVINGSTON MANOR July 4, 2006 In the wake of some of the worst flooding Sullivan County has ever seen, New York State politicians are calling for quick and adequate relief for local communities.
Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer held a press conference in Livingston Manor on Friday along with Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and Town of Rockland Supervisor Pat Pomeroy.
The conference was held to assure the public that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would be held responsible for immediate and sufficient relief.
Senator Schumer stated that the people are pulling together, but without help from Washington, it wont be enough.
Noting that years of sweat and toil [are now] gone and the amount of devastation is much worse than past years, he promised that the terrible damage cannot be undone, but we will try our hardest to make things whole again.
Admitting the faults FEMA has shown in the past with disasters both in New York and during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Senator Clinton offered that if there are any problems, let us know, and we will put the pressure on them.
Clinton also noted that the past is the past, but prevention will help future disasters from occurring.
We have to find out whats going on now and how we can prevent it from happening again, she said.
All of the politicians present said that they want to focus on planning for the future through investigations into the problems of the past.
The big questions circulating around the county is why this happened, what can be done to prevent a repeat incident and who, if anybody, is at fault.
The solutions to the first two problems, according to the politicians, are a matter of funding.
A lack of funding to the Army Corps of Engineers, said Hinchey, is a big part of why the stream banks were overcome with water.
He argued that if they were given the money necessary to do proper tests and to build long-lasting reinforcements along streams, Sullivan County wouldnt be in its current state of disarray.
Schumer stated that there is virtually no flood control on the Delaware due to diminishing funds.
Hinchey took the problem outside the boundaries of this region and said that the country as a whole is facing the same problems with inadequate funding for domestic issues, as well as a right-wing Republican denial of the global warming issue.
And while Mother Nature might seem the natural first choice to receive the blame, the federal government is high up on the list, according to these New York State politicians.
Senator Clinton said that the goals in Washington are misplaced, meaning that domestic issues should be first on the list for funding, and sent out a plea to get past partisanship and to work together to complete a common goal.
Amongst the promises for immediate relief, Senator Schumer told the public that, depending on ones situation, it may be possible to receive up to $400,000 from either FEMA or from the Small Business Association.
These grants will help to offset Hincheys estimation of the $100 million in damages from the Flood of 2006.
Applications for disaster relief grants are straightforward, Schumer explained, and are readily available.
For information or for disaster relief (available currently only to businesses) call FEMA: 1-800-621-3362.