By Frank Rizzo
SULLIVAN COUNTY While the county hopes to join 19 others in New York State officially declared disaster areas by President Obama on Wednesday, the federal government has been in town to assess the damage from Hurricane Irene.
Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were touring the county Friday morning with Public Safety Commissioner Dick Martinkovic and Public Works Commissioner Bob Meyer and their staffs to take a look at the hardest-hit areas.
“I hope we get the declaration,” said Legislator Elwin Wood, whose district, especially Claryville, received some of the most damage. “With the amount of infrastructure especially road and bridge damage we received, we need it.”
The president declared 19 counties eligible for Public Assistance meaning they will be aided with emergency work and the repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities. Eight of those counties have also been made eligible for Individual Assistance and will receive direct assistance for individuals, families and businesses whose property has been damaged or destroyed and whose losses are not covered by insurance.
Sullivan is among the seven other counties identified by Governor Andrew Cuomo as needing recovery help from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irene not included in the initial presidential declaration.
FEMA is currently reviewing the remaining counties to determine their eligibility for federal assistance.
On Wednesday morning County Manager David Fanslau said that some news media reports “this morning left the impression that a determination was made that Sullivan County was rejected for inclusion in federal disaster aid through [FEMA]… That would be an incorrect conclusion.”
“I have been in contact with representatives of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Maurice Hinchey. FEMA will perform a Preliminary Damage Assessment of public infrastructure for public (local government) assistance… through a site visit and inspection of damage throughout Sullivan County,” Fanslau said in a release. “FEMA will also perform a site inspection regarding individual Assistance (IA) that would make a determination for non-local government assistance.
The release concluded, “Sullivan County officials anticipate that … [the county] will qualify for Public Assistance… and that President Obama will include Sullivan County in the disaster areas for New York State.”
Take a SCCC shower
Sullivan County Community College will open the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse locker rooms shower facilities to county residents that remain without power on Friday, September 2 from 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Residents will need to bring their own toiletries and towels.
“I want to thank the Sullivan County Community College Board of Trustees for offering assistance to county residents, during this continuing power outage that is affecting thousands as a result of the impacts from hurricane Irene,” said County Manager David Fanslau in a press release.
Eldred Central School will also open its facilities for showers (see page 1B).