Flood waters have receded to reveal nearly 200 flood-damaged homes in the Madison County city of Oneida.
As Oneida Fire Chief Gregg Myers, Madison County officials and area neighbors assess the severe damage caused by flash flooding in recent days, they anxiously wait for the city to be declared a disaster area so they can learn about specific assistance that will be made available to them.
Senator Chuck Schumer walked with officials through flood-ravaged neighborhoods to look at damage left in Oneida's evacuation zone flooded by the Oneida Creek, and inspected significant infrastructure issues caused by the rains.
Schumer says damages caused by the flooding meets FEMA's threshold for federal disaster. He expects Madison and Oneida counties to be declared a federal disaster area within the next couple of days. The formal declaration must come from the White House.
"The good news here is that FEMA will give as grants up to $32,000 to replace furniture and appliances that were lost. If your furnace is gone, to get a new furnace and if the structure of your building is gone," said Schumer.
Provided that declaration does come, FEMA personnel will come to Oneida to help neighbors make claims for disaster grants. Several families have already been told the rushing waters have cost them tens of thousands of dollars in damages. Some homes may even be considered total losses.
Schumer and Madison County officials recommend people keep receipts, photographs and any documentation they may have - these items will all help neighbors get reimbursed from FEMA when the time comes.
"Take a picture of the stuff piled in front of your house before the sanitation people pick it up. If you need emergency equipment, let's say you had to buy a generator - keep a receipt," said Schumer.
Gene and Robin Farr had 62 inches of water inside their home. Their insurance adjuster told them the house could be a total loss and it could be seven months to a year before they can move back in. Gene is hoping the president will declare the area a disaster site soon so he can meet with FEMA and get specific answers about aid that is available.
"We know what our flood insurance limit is but we also know it's not going cover contents that they've taken out there - and how we're going to recover from that disaster," said Farr.