Communities throughout Steuben County are still reeling after historic flooding this week from the remains of Tropical Storm Fred. Several inches of rain fell in a matter of hours, prompting flash flooding- and even evacuations.
County officials say there’s likely millions of dollars in damage, but the full-toll of that heavy rain and flooding will not be known for some time.
“Since yesterday we have had teams on the ground documenting that damage, and doing those assessments both at individual residences, but also on county highways, school districts that were impacted. Once we get all of that in place the hope is we can quickly get FEMA money into the community,” explained Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler.
The Department of Environmental Conservation issued an emergency declaration to expedite storm recovery projects in Steuben. The action authorizes DEC to expedite necessary permit reviews for work to repair infrastructure and structures on and over waterways, restore waterway channel capacity, and perform other activities necessary to restore public safety.
To help those efforts, the DEC will be conducting site visits, meeting with property owners and local leaders, as well as offering technical guidance to review permit applications received.
“I’ve seen first-hand the damage and devastation wrought by flooding after severe storms across New York’s Southern Tier,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “This emergency declaration will help expedite the critical work necessary to bring communities and infrastructure back online and restore quality of life.”
Region 8 will utilize the Statewide General Permit for stream activities in Steuben County, including emergency stream repair work in protected waterbodies following a natural disaster. General Permits help communities rebuild by avoiding the process of seeking individual site-specific permits.
DEC allows pumping out floodwaters from residential structures without a permit. If possible, property owners are advised to pump water to a grassy area so that solids can settle out before entering nearby water bodies. In the event that any water encountered during the flood recovery is impacted by petroleum, chemicals, or other hazardous materials, property owners are advised to immediately contact DEC’s Spill hotline (1-800-457-7362) prior to addressing any floodwaters.
The county said that the towns of West Union, Woodhull, Troupsburg, Tuscarora, Greenwood, Canisteo, Jasper and Addison are still under the state of emergency. Many roads in those areas are still heavily damaged, and remained closed.
One Steuben County school will not be able to reopen after the flooding.
The Jasper Troupsburg High School sustained extensive damage, and as result, will not be available to students this year. The district is looking at other options, including using the vacant school in Hornell on a temporary basis.
Jordan Troupsburg Superintendent LeeAnn Jordan told parents in a letter that the district is doing everything it can to keep students together and avoid remote learning.
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