Two weeks after floodwaters roared through Herkimer and much of the Mohawk Valley, local representatives and state officials reviewed some of the damage that remains in the village.
Among the areas the officials visited on Thursday was Church Street, where a portion of the road was still closed. At a home next to the Church Street bridge, sandbags were still piled up, its yard was still slicked down with mud and a lamppost was bent out of shape.
“Sadly, we’re seeing this kind of flooding in places we haven’t had it before,” said state Department of Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky during a visit to his department’s mobile command center in Herkimer on Thursday.
“It’s a very disturbing trend of events,” he added about the frequency of major flooding in the state. He referred to the flooding in August and September 2011 with Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which also affected the area.
The command center, which was created in the wake of Irene and Lee, was set up outside of Herkimer Village Hall on Wednesday and Thursday so home or business owners could discuss any concerns or questions they may have in the wake of the flooding.
“We’re here to prepare for, deal with, respond to and recover from” these kinds of events, said Lawsky.
Claudine Grande, a former Herkimer County legislator, was one of the individuals seeking out the help of the command center on Thursday.
“I lost three furnaces and three hot water heaters,” she said, noting she has two properties on Second Avenue and one on Mohawk Street. “We were without hot water for five to six days.”
Grande said while she lost a lot of “junk,” she said she also lost a lot of “good stuff.”
“My wonderful nieces and nephews all showed up and helped,” she said, noting they filled up two dumpsters with “junk and good stuff.”
Lawsky urged those who might suspect they have a flood insurance claim, but aren’t sure, to contact them. He also said those who may have a claim should act promptly by either visiting a command center or calling the DFS disaster hotline at 1-800-339-1759.
“There’s a lot of people who didn’t have flood insurance, and who have flood damage,” said Lawsky. “They can turn to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And if FEMA does not help them, the state will.”
“There’s a lot of concerns [from citizens] about insurance and FEMA,” said Herkimer Mayor Mark Ainsworth, who toured the damage with Lawsky, other DFS representatives and county Legislator Gary Hartman. “How do they try to rebuild what they lost?”
Ainsworth said the state has been “good in responding and getting our community back to normal as fast as they can.”
Page 2 of 2 - The DFS mobile command center will be set up at the shopping center between East Walnut and Sconondoa streets in Oneida on Friday and Saturday, at the Tops Plaza on Main Street in Whitesboro on Sunday and the Little Falls municipal parking lot on East Main Street on Monday.
A website is also available for a reference about the flooding called www.herkimerflood.org.