ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County might be eligible for a big dose of funding for flood mitigation projects as its communities continue to rebuild from Tropical Storm Irene.
County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas, D-Jay, said recently that Essex County might receive funds through the Department of Environmental Conservation's Flood Mitigation Grant Program.
"It looks like we're going to get $500,000 for Essex County, if that's what our needs are," he said. "That's what we should be working towards."
DEC and Empire State Development announced last week that $30 million in grants are available to communities and businesses hit by tropical storms Irene and Lee last year. DEC will fund $9 million worth of flood mitigation and flood control projects.
"So we're not competing amongst each other we're going to try and set up a meeting in the next two weeks," Douglas said.
To find out more about flood mitigation needs, Douglas said he's spoken to officials from the Essex County Industrial Development Agency, Soil and Water Conservation District and Community Resources Department, as well as the AuSable River Association.
Environmental groups, local governments and property owners came together last fall to discuss how to shore up rivers and streams to protect against future flooding. The big hurdle, Douglas said, was finding the resources to clean up and rebuild.
Flood mitigation grants will range from $300,000 to $500,000, with preference going to applicants that "demonstrate the greatest need and to those projects that can start work expeditiously and leverage other federal, state and local funding resources," according to a joint press release issued by DEC and ESD.
Eligible projects include debris removal, gravel removal, stream bank stabilization and culvert replacement. Applications must be submitted by April 11.
ESD will provide the remaining $21 million through the Business Flood Recovery Grant Program. Those funds will be available to businesses and other eligible entities that sustained "direct, physical flood-related damage."
The ESD grants will be "highly competitive," Douglas said.
ESD will administer grants of up to $20,000 for small businesses, farms and nonprofit groups. Those applications are due by March 16.