Saugerties gets $6 million to deal with flood damage

Bill Cochran, caretaker at Opus 40, looks over the Mercedes that he and his dog, Alberta, were in when the roof was blown off the historic home built by the late artist Harvey Fite during Irene. (photo by Robert Ford)

Bill Cochran, caretaker at Opus 40, looks over the Mercedes that he and his dog, Alberta, were in when the roof was blown off the historic home built by the late artist Harvey Fite during Irene. (photo by Robert Ford)

Saugerties is eligible for $6 million in state funds to repair damage from 2012 storms, the state announced last week. The funds are part of the $750 million New York State Rising Community Construction Program.

The town and village of Saugerties are each eligible for $3 million of that funding, according to Town Supervisor Kelly Myers. “They are calling the entire effort, Building Back Better,” she said. The supervisor is particularly enthusiastic about the “better” part of that formulation.

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“It will provide money, and a planner to help us develop the necessary plans in order to help our communities to better face the next Irene or Sandy,” Myers said.

Myers said the Hudson Valley is good at handling a lot of snow, “but what we don’t do well, is hurricanes and storm surges. We live 100 miles north of New York City, and here we are getting high tides, a storm surge, six billion gallons of water being released by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and a hurricane. We don’t deal well with all that water.”

With Irene, Sandy, and Tropical Storm Lee thrown in for good measure, flooding occurred around the Plattekill, the Esopus creeks and the Hudson River.

The rising waters forced residents from their homes in Malden, Glasco, around Rt. 212, Clint Finger Rd. and both sides of the Esopus Creek in the village.

Myers said residents of those areas should be involved.

“We want to engage the public in the process,” Myers said. “We will want them to come out and tell us what we can do for them.”

Myers had no time line for when the planning money would be coming to Saugerties for the process to begin, but she did say it will “happen really, really soon.”

As for the $3 million the village and town will each receive, Myers said it could be used to fund loans to homeowners in the hardest hit areas, allowing them to make improvements like putting their homes up on pilings so they no longer flood, or to possibly buy the affected homes.

“Or we can do a study on how to dredge the mouth of the Esopus Creek, or even pay for it,” Myers said, “something that Senator Chuck Schumer said he would get the federal government to help pay for but has since backed away from that promise.”

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