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Home » Valentine's Day » TOTAL DEVASTATION: Update on Steuben’s state of emergency, awaiting FEMA declaration, homes destroyed, and families rescued by boat as flood waters rose

TOTAL DEVASTATION: Update on Steuben’s state of emergency, awaiting FEMA declaration, homes destroyed, and families rescued by boat as flood waters rose

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  • Staff Report 

More than a week removed from the historic, record-breaking flood in Steuben County cleanup and recovery is a work in progress. It will take months, if not years, for some to fully-recover from the massive amount of rain that fell in a matter of hours, which prompted flash flooding in several communities.

Residents, businesses, and virtually all lives were touched by the flooding in Steuben County brought on by Tropical Storm Fred.

Update on the State of Emergency

Late-Wednesday, Timothy Marshall, Director of Public Safety in Steuben County issued the following statement- outlining the latest on the State of Emergency in Steuben.

“The American Red Cross Shelter at the Tuscarora Elementary School will close Thursday afternoon.  Those that need further assistance with housing are asked to call 211,” he said. “Many local town roads are also severely damaged and caution should be used if driving in these areas. Travelers should follow posted detours and check for more information. This is still an active Disaster Area. No Unnecessary travel is ordered in these townships.  Do not travel in this area unless you have a specific business there.  This will allow the road crews and organized volunteers to do their work.”

State Road Closures

  • State Route 417 from County Route 81 in Woodhull east to Addison Village Line (6158-7939 SR 417)
  • State Route 417/36 Concurrent Section in Jasper (3407-3745 SR 417)
  • State Route 36 from County Route 119 south to Bush Hill Rd in Town of Canisteo (5250-5323 SR 36)

County Road Closures

  • County Route 21, Town of Canisteo. From 4261 County Route 21 east to Lamphier Rd (4261-4157 CR 21)
  • County Route 103, Town of Woodhull. From 1553-1561 County Route 103
  • County Route 129, Town of Woodhull. From 5500-5570 County Route 129
  • County Route 31, Town of Jasper. From 3579-3593 County Route 31
DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

Businesses await disaster funding

Who will qualify? That’s been the most frequently posed question by business owners in Steuben County since the historic flood last week.

Marshall said $30 million is needed in damage across the county to qualify or FEMA “Emergency Disaster Declaration” status, which would allow federal financial relief.

“The general thinking is that the $30 million thresholds should be reached,” Assemblyman Phil Palmesano said. “Personally, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

If the threshold is not reached- it will be on local government to foot the bill. Local officials are urging business owners like Smith to document any damage and call 2-1-1 to report it.

Rescued by boat in Addison as flood waters rose

An Addison family is beginning the process of recovering, but that will undoubtedly take time, as they recover physically and mentally from an experience unlike any other.

Audrey Starkey, as well as Lori and Don Darby, had to be rescued by boat on August 18 as flood water rose too quickly on their property. “It was getting everything prepared, making sure the family and everybody was safe to evac. I kept a cool head because panic does not work well with emergency situations. That’s for later,” Don recalled, speaking with WENY-TV. A vehicle was washed away by the flood waters, as they held on, awaiting rescue. “My reaction was just to hang on,” Starkey said. “At one point, I didn’t know if I could hang on any longer, I do have Leukemia, but I’m quite a strong person and I kept telling myself ‘15 more minutes’ and hopefully the rescue boat will be here. They did a fantastic job.”

Their neighbors, Alistair and Tiffani Farnham, also suffered major damage in the flood. “This community has really been great,” Tiffani said, “Strangers are coming here and helping, people that we don’t know. People bringing food, donating food, bringing all the cleaning supplies, basically just wanting to give their own shirts off their backs is essentially how this community has been treating us. It’s been amazing to see and amazing to feel. It’s the only things that’s keeping us together.”

GoFundMe’s have been setup for both families:

Starkey Family
Farnham Family

Local help sought via United Way

United Way of the Southern Tier is collecting monetary donations to the “Steuben County Flood Response Fund” to assist non-profit agencies that are helping local flood victims.

Donations can be sent to:
United Way of the Southern Tier
P.O. Box 284
Elmira, NY 14902

Make checks payable to “UWST Steuben County FRF.”

All donations to United Way of the Southern Tier for the Steuben County Flood Response Fund will be fully invested in flood relief with no monies withheld for administrative costs, according to United Way President and CEO Stephen M. Hughes.

Any individual with damages needing assistance can reach out to the 211 Helpline by dialing 2-1-1 and providing their address, contact information and type of damages. This helps to document the needs and provides work to the volunteer agencies.