TUPPER LAKE - Flood waters rushed in quickly in late April and early May, but federal and state funding to help with water damage may trickle in slowly, if at all.
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said Friday that when funding comes through, it would likely flow more quickly to municipalities, to fund repairs to public infrastructure,, than to individuals whose property was damaged.
That's because individuals would have to file claims with whoever is administering the funds, and then the applications would have to be processed one by one, Owens said.
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, center, talks to Tupper Lake village Mayor Mickey Desmarais as Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost, left, and village police Chief Tom Fee listen in Tupper Lake Friday after a tour of flood damage.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
"It's just more paperwork that someone has to go through, so it's a slower process," he said.
But Owens said he's confident the area will get funding, mainly because Federal Emergency Management Agency assessors already visited the area once and plan to return once flood waters recede enough to do a full damage assessment.
"Certainly if we need to, we will be lobbying the president to push for that," Owens said.
Owens was in Tupper Lake Friday morning surveying flood damage with village Mayor Mickey Desmarais, police Chief Tom Fee and Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost as part of a tour he's doing of the affected areas. He also visited Saranac Lake, Moriah and Colton Thursday and Friday.
He said he has been in conversations with Andrew Feeney, the head of the state Office of Emergency Management, and facilitating conversations between various government officials and local officials in flood-affected areas. He decided he wanted to have a picture in his mind's eye of what he's talking about when he's doing that.
"It's much different when you haven't actually seen it, when you're just talking about it," Owens said.
Provost told Owens about the different areas of town that saw flooding, explaining that while in Saranac Lake much of the infrastructure is the problem since the village is built around the river, most of the damage in Tupper Lake was to private property. About 70 homes were affected, and about 40 saw flood waters enter the first floor.
Provost said current rain this past week and next may make it take longer for flooded homes to dry out, but there's no fear anymore that rivers and lakes will reach the level they were at.
Owens compared the quickly receding flood waters to where he lives on Lake Champlain, which is still at a high level.
Contact Jessica Collier at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.