TUPPER LAKE - State Sen. Betty Little visited here Thursday to get an idea of how destructive flooding was in late March and early April.
State officials are working on getting Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to help flood victims recover from the damage. But while the state has likely hit the $25 million threshold for damage costs, it's not just a monetary figure that has to be met.
"You've got to make the argument, too, that there was hardship," Little said.
Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun shows state Sen. Betty Little how high water got at the Raquette River Boat Club, of which he is part owner, as town Supervisor Roger Amell, part owner Tom LaMere and WNBZ radio’s George Earl watch.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
But the numbers are important.
"You have to really have your numbers; you have to be accurate," she said.
Franklin County Legislator Paul Maroun, who also works as Little's legal counsel, has been regularly describing the damage to her, but Little said she wanted to visit Tupper Lake to see what it was like herself, which she said would help while she's wrangling with federal officials for money.
Little said it may be difficult to get federal funds, since there are so many disasters going on around the country with tornados, fires and other flooding.
"Nevertheless, there's a lot of damage here," Little said.
She said she recalled one time when the Northway and state Route 11 were washed out and state officials pushed for federal emergency funding, but it was never awarded.
Mark "Beard" Sutliffe told Little about his experience with flooding at his state Route 30 bar, Trail's End. He said the water went right up to the door but didn't quite get inside the first floor.
Since flood water compromised a wastewater pump on Raquette River Drive, his building wasn't able to use plumbing. Emergency workers installed portable toilets that were provided by FEMA.
"That was a real hardship for people, too," Little said.
Little thanked Royce Cole, second assistant chief for the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department, for all the department did during the flooding. Franklin County officials estimated that the department put in upwards of 2,500 hours while Tupper Lakers were inundated.
Maroun said some officials are discussing ideas to avoid flooding in the future. He said they are throwing around ideas about lowering lake levels earlier next year through dam management if there's a lot of snow and ice.
They couldn't release all the water at once as levels got higher, because it would have meant too much water rushing into areas down the Raquette River from Tupper Lake.
While there were many rumors about dams in the area on the verge of failure throughout the flooding, Cole said none of the dams was ever compromised.
"That was the first priority in the morning, checking on them," Cole said.
Little said flooding was at record levels all over her district. In North Creek, water rose over the platform at the train station where Theodore Roosevelt found out that William McKinley was dead and he was to be president. She said people who lived in North Creek all their lives had never seen it that high.
"It's amazing, the amount of rain we've had," Little said.