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Franklin County damage said to be $10.2M, not counting Tupper

May 4, 2011
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost says flooding over the past week has caused roughly $10.2 million in damage to public infrastructure in the county.

"And that's probably going to go up because we can't see some of the potential places for infrastructure damage at this point," he told the Enterprise Tuesday night.

Provost said the initial damage estimate, which was compiled by county Highway Superintendent Jon Hutchins and officials in each of the towns impacted by the flooding, doesn't include Tupper Lake, where assessments haven't been completed because the flood waters are still too high.

Half of the $10.2 million estimate comes from flood damage in the village of Saranac Lake, which village Manager John Sweeney pegged at just under $5 million. That includes an estimated $2 million in damage to the final clarifiers at the village Wastewater Treatment Plant, which were overwhelmed by flooding of the Saranac River last week. Erosion of the peninsula behind the Water Department building and damage to the Woodruff Street bridge, the River Walk, retaining walls and a sewer line along the river are also included.

"There's still additional things we have to look at and put on there, so that's a preliminary number," Sweeney said Tuesday night.

Although many of the hardest-hit parts of the village lie in Essex County, including the wastewater plant, the estimate is added to Franklin County because the village, which owns the infrastructure, has its offices on the Franklin County side.

Provost said the flood damage in the county has easily surpassed the $163,000 threshold for declaring a county state of emergency.

"We broke that a half-hour into this thing," he said.

"The running joke is we spent that much on yellow caution tape," Sweeney said.

Provost said he believes the amount of damage Franklin County saw from the flooding, when combined with the damage estimates in other counties, will be enough to exceed a $25 million threshold to have the region declared a federal disaster area. In neighboring Essex County, officials estimate damage to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure at $10 to $12 million.

"New York state needs to have ($25) million in damages before they can push it up the chain to the president and ask for a presidential declaration," Provost said. "I think the state is at that point or is going to be over that point very soon."

If a federal disaster area is declared, Provost said it would open up the possibility of getting federal aid to repair the infrastructure damage.

A team from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to visit the county to review its damage assessments on Thursday, Provost said.

Asked what options would be available for residents, property owners and businesses who've experienced flood damage, Provost said the U.S. Small Business Administration will likely make low-interest loans available to small business owners. County officials are also hoping property owners could get IA, or Individual Assistance, through FEMA, which would provide people with grants for temporary housing and home repairs.

"We're still crunching those numbers," Provost said. "The IA numbers are a lot higher in Tupper Lake, where there are 30 to 35 homes with first-floor flooding. First-floor flooding is the key. That's where they look at it and say, 'Whoa, this damage isn't normal.' For those who've had a flooded cellar, they look at that and say, 'Pump it out, and you might have to get your furnace tuned up, but it's not a total loss.'"

Provost said there are about 10 homes with first-floor flooding in Saranac Lake.



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