Lake Ontario recovery program to aid people with homes, businesses ravaged by flooding

Local News

More than 100 people packed the Sandy Pond Sportsmen’s Association’s pavilion for a workshop focused on helping those impacted by recent waves of flooding in Oswego County.

The meeting, co-hosted by State Sen. Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Will Barclay, made Lake Ontario Recovery Fund Program applications available to homeowners of primary and secondary residences.

Empire State Development also has applications for aid through the Lake Ontario Small Business Recovery Fund.

Like her fellow neighbors, Debbie Russo Cumiega attended the meeting looking for help after heavy rain and flooding swamped the North Country.

“You can see how high it was,” said Russo Cumiega while on her North Sandy Pond camp property. “It was up to this level where you can see the stain for the last two months. It really just started receding.”

For decades, they’ve been spending summers on Kiblin Shores on Sandy Pond.

“We’ve been here since 1975,” said Victor Russo, Debbie’s father. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Never. They claim the last time there was something like this, it was 1973, but they say this one was worse because everybody’s hit.”

Sandbags handed off by the National Guard weeks ago are still stacked high on their breaking wall. There are hundreds of sandbags remain on their property.

On their land are also four spaces for rent – each one underwater without electricity or working septic systems.

Russo Cumiega says the owners of the four camps haven’t been able to come up and enjoy this season because the water has been so high and the damage so devastating.

State aid isn’t flowing yet, but residents have been promised help.

For now, the Russos are hoping damages don’t overflow past $5,000 – their estimates of damage so far.

During tonight’s workshop, it was noted that aid packages could be a maximum of $50,000 for properties that required it, according to Reg Schweitzer, the deputy director of the Neighbors of Watertown.

Emergency storm recovery permits from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation are still available, according to Dave Bimber with the DEC. He says permits usually take between two and three months to acquire, but the emergency permits take only two to three days to process.

Oswego County Legislator Margaret Kasler also spoke during the workshop offering health tips to neighbors because of dangers flood water can cause.

Kasler stressed the importance of taking precautions when attempting to clean during flood recovery. More information can be found here.

An attorney from NYS Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s Office attended the workshop to lend a few helpful tips on avoiding contractor scams.

According to the AG’s Office, scams and also price gauging oftentimes spike when communities are hard hit by storm damage.

The AG’s Office offers these helpful reminders:
– Identify the full home improvement project
– Shop around for estimates
– Know what permits are needed
– Get references for the contractors in question
– Get proof of insurance
– Check licenses where necessary
– Never pay the full price up front
 

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