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The Times
  • Mobile command center open in Herkimer

  • Those seeking help in the aftermath of the flooding from the past two weeks can visit the state Department of Financial Services’ Mobile Command Center. The center was set up in the Herkimer Village Hall parking lot on Wednesday and will be open there again today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trained personnel, in...
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  • Those seeking help in the aftermath of the flooding from the past two weeks can visit the state Department of Financial Services’ Mobile Command Center.
    The center was set up in the Herkimer Village Hall parking lot on Wednesday and will be open there again today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trained personnel, including Department of Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky, who will be available to assist residents, will staff it. Matthew Anderson, a spokesperson with the Department of Financial Services, said the mobile command center will “help provide assistance for those dealing with damage resulting from the flooding.”
    Impacted families and business are also urged to call the DFS disaster hotline for assistance at 1-800-339-1759, which is available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    The command center will be deployed to additional locations, not yet announced, in the coming days to continue to help victims. For more information, go to www.dfs.ny.gov.
    Cuomo ‘not optimistic’ on FEMA funds, promises help regardless
    When it comes to flood relief, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appears to be losing faith in Washington. Addressing a crowd at Herkimer County Community College on Sunday, Cuomo seemed confident federal assistance would be made available for municipalities and residents affected by the recent flooding — although he acknowledged he had yet to speak directly with federal officials on the matter.
    But The Times Union in Albany reported Cuomo's tune had changed by Tuesday, when he shared his doubts after an appearance at the University of Buffalo Law School.
    “I spoke with the federal officials today. At this point I am not overly optimistic,” Cuomo said. “I want to get the federal funds, because the state does not have a lot of money either. But whatever happens, we are not going to leave the homeowners on their own.”
    Cuomo previously said the “worst-case scenario” would be to call a special session of the state Legislature dedicated to finding funds to dole out to weatherworn counties.
    The heavy rainfall of June 27 and June 28 hit Herkimer, Oneida, Madison and Montgomery counties hard. At the height of the storms, over 13,000 New Yorkers were without power, including the entire village of Mohawk, whose power substation was inundated by 10 feet of water. Significant flooding caused by the overflowing of the Mohawk River due to heavy rainfall ravaged 15 counties, forced hundreds to evacuate from their homes, destroyed countless amounts of personal property and rendered critical infrastructure, such as water treatment plants, power stations and canal locks, inoperable or significantly damaged. In addition to infrastructure, many upstate New Yorkers are suffering. In four of the hardest hit municipalities 44 homes were destroyed, 75 were left with major damage and more than 750 had minor damage. Areas in the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley were also impacted and are in need of aid.
    Page 2 of 4 - Senators: Send emergency food assistance now
    U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement emergency food resources. Specifically, the senators called for an extension for replacement Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits for 30 days in disaster-affected counties, approval to implement a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as soon as possible and additional resources from the Emergency Food Assistance Program to counties hit the hardest.
    “When disaster strikes, we must step in and assist those who need help the most,” said Schumer. “The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition and Emergency Food Assistance programs are there to fill the gap as New Yorkers across the Mohawk Valley recover and rebuild after terrible storms, and they must be extended and implemented immediately.”
    “Standing by those who are struggling is who we are as Americans,” said Gillibrand. “No one can question the suffering these families are enduring today. I’ve seen it first-hand. We must stand by them with access to healthy meals so they can meet basic needs as we work to clean up and get back on our feet.”
    Schumer: Stream gauges provide critical warnings to cities, towns
    U.S. Senator Charles Schumer on Wednesday highlighted the importance of stream gauges in flood detection, prevention and evacuation planning in upstate New York, called for the full funding of New York’s existing 200-plus stream and river gauges and urged for more gauges to be installed in the region.
    He said given repeated and increasing flooding in the Mohawk Valley, Hudson Valley, Southern Tier, Western New York and beyond in recent years, New York should be prioritized for more of these devices, which predict if and when floodwaters will crest.
    He said the National Streamgage Information Program, through the U.S. Geological Survey, is chronically underfunded, which leaves many of the devices at risk of being shut off each year. He called for the passage of the administration’s 2014 budget, which includes an increase of $7.3 million and the addition of 300 new gauges nationwide.
    “In the aftermath of the severe rainfall and flash flooding in upstate New York, we must first focus on recovery and rebuilding, but also look to prevent future instances of what has been repeated and increased flooding. We have learned from Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, Superstorm Sandy and the recent flooding in upstate New York that we cannot shortchange programs that our communities rely on to keep their citizens safe and well-informed and help first responders plan flood responses” said Schumer. “Stream gauges are the first line of defense in river flooding, and in these cases, a stitch in time saves nine. As these and other disasters have shown, funding stream gauges is a critical and comparatively minor investment relative to the cost of repairing and rebuilding after a flood for which a community did not have time to prepare. We have a responsibility to prepare our communities in the event of natural disasters and always do our best to prevent loss of life and property — stream gauges do both for pennies on the dollar.”
    Page 3 of 4 - Schumer urged his colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee, with jurisdiction over stream gauge funding, to increase the funding for existing stream gauges throughout the U.S. and to add 300 additional gauges to the system. He said he wants New York to be prioritized as decisions are made as to where the new gauges are placed, given its recent history of severe and recurrent flooding and because many local emergency managers have cited a need for better tools to predict flooding.
    Free Tdap shots for flood victims
    Herkimer County Public Health will offer free Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) shots for cleanup workers, first responders and residents who were affected by the recent flooding in Herkimer County.
    The clinics will take place today from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Mohawk Fire Station, 28 Columbia St., Mohawk, and from 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday mornings during Public Health’s walk-in clinics at 301 N. Washington St., Herkimer.
    For information, call 867-1176.
    Deadline for Herkimer flood debris removal
    Herkimer residents who want the village to pick up flood debris have until Friday to get it to the curb. Officials announced Tuesday that 2 p.m. Friday will be the cut-off date for flood debris removal in the village.
    Any residents who have additional debris after that date are asked to call the village office at 866-3303 to be placed on a list to be reviewed by village officials.
    Town of Herkimer has dumpsters available
    The town of Herkimer has dumpsters available at the town highway garage on Gros Boulevard in Herkimer for town of Herkimer residents to use to dispose of trash caused by the recent flood. For further information call the town office at 866-2690.
    Nature Center at HCCC closed indefinitely
    The Lloyd and Carol Bull Nature Center at Herkimer County Community College is closed until further notice. Located beyond Wehrum Stadium, the center sustained significant damage as a result of the recent flooding.
    The nature center includes an interpretive trail and is used as an outdoor laboratory for many science classes and for recreational activities by the general public.
    Salvation Army
    The Salvation Army has mobile vehicles operating in the county providing food, water and other services. Residents may also visit the following sites until further notice: the Salvation Army office at 431 N. Prospect St. in Herkimer for coffee and drinks from 9 a.m. to noon and dinner from 6 to 8 p.m.; the vacant lot next to the Family Dollar in Mohawk for coffee and drinks from 9 a.m. to noon and dinner from 5 p.m. until gone.
    American Red Cross
    The American Red Cross continues to have emergency response vehicles operating in the area to provide food, cleanup and comfort kits and other services. There will also be a fixed feeding site at Fort Plain Senior Center, 204 Canal St., from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until further notice.
    Page 4 of 4 - Points of Distribution
    Points of distribution have been set up at the following locations:
    Herkimer Fire Department, 125 N. Washington St. Water and food are also provided between Washington and Mohawk streets from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Mohawk Fire Department, 28 Columbia St. Water and food are also provided between Henry and West Columbia streets.
    Owen D. Young Central School, 2316 State Route 80, Van Hornesville. Water and meals ready to eat are available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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