In the event they are called back to Albany for a special session, state representatives could introduce legislation that would establish financial help for victims of flooding.
“We need to take steps to prevent future floods in the state,” said state Sen. James Seward, R-Milford.
Seward and state Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, announced Friday a six-point legislative package — also sponsored by Sens. Hugh Farley, R-Schenectady, and David Valesky, D-Oneida — that includes establishing a state flooding task force to develop plans for flood mitigation as well as a state funding source for those affected by floods, among others aspects.
The notion of a task force is not new to the Mohawk Valley.
The state created one after the 2006 flooding, which caused $20 million in damage in Herkimer County, yet the initiative fell by the wayside.
“In the past we have had studies,” Seward said. “Unfortunately, those studies have ended up gathering dust on the shelves.”
A 2008 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report made clear the urgency in taking flood-control measures along the Mohawk River and its tributaries regionally.
This time around, Seward said the initiative has a state funding component as well as specific deadlines.
“That’s been the missing link in the past,” Seward said.
Griffo said the state has a new governor, new people in office as well as a proposed formal structure that wasn’t in place before.
The regularity of these events also demonstrates the need for action, he said.
“Before, they saw them as isolated incidents,” Griffo said. “It’s something that has to happen now.”
Vincent Bono, R-Schuyler, Herkimer County Legislature chairman, said the legislation is “exactly what we need.”
As for where the money will come from for the relief fund, Griffo and Seward said the state budget would have to be looked at.
Bono also said that state government should find ways to redirect funds to the cause.
“I think there are some programs that can be reassessed,” he said.
Before the possible legislation, officials said a response must be received from the federal government. They said that while they’re not sure private citizens will meet the threshold, they are prepared to request that FEMA come take another look.
“This wasn’t a 48-hour flood,” Griffo said. “It was a three-week flood.”