Waiting for flood relief money

This is what the Hatch home looks like now that flood damage has been cleared. They're waiting for money, including their flood insurance, to rebuild

It's going on 3 weeks after the devastating floods, and homeowners and businesses are still waiting to hear if, when, and how they'll get help in rebuilding.

The Governor is key in several developments:

~ On Tuesday, Andrew Cuomo said $10-million is what's needed to help the private rebuilding, and he's looking at ways of pulling that money from the existing state budget, rather than calling the legislature back into session to approve extra funding.

~Congressman Richard Hanna (D-22nd District/flood area) says he's disappointed that FEMA is not funding private redevelopment, and would support Cuomo if he decides to appeal the decision.

~The Small Business Administration also has help, but the governor would have to ask for it (it apparently would have come automatically with a broader FEMA declaration)

'We have flood insurance, but we haven't heard anything from them," Oneida homeowner Helen Hatch told us on Tuesday. She and her husband are living in a Canastota motel, and they're not even sure how to pay those bills. Their home had wais-deep water on the first floor during the June flood, and family and friends have gutted the damaged area, but they still have no electricity -- or a plan for rebuilding.

Across Mott Road (facing 365A) the Oneida Service Center has just re-opened, after five feet of water devastated the auto repair shop. Owner Chad Ward tells us he's taking on a couple jobs a day, to keep his mechnics busy, but that it will take a month for a full recovery. His father was repainting the waiting room as we visited, and friends and customers have helped out, but Ward says he's used credit cards to pay for repairs, and those cards are coming due. He's worried about cash flow, and keeping the business going.

There are some signs of relief: National Grid is suspending bills, until power is fully restored. Getting power back is also a priority: Chris Baker has been inspected and approved, but was tracking down utility people to turn electricity on, so that he could start fans and dehumidifiers to keep ahead of mold damage.

And, volunteers and emergency relief organizations continue to help out: The Red Cross, delivering bag lunches in the flood zone. The Salvation Army, delivering $50 dollar gift cards, up to three of them per house, to the 200+ homes hit hard in Oneida.

The city is shutting down the Wilson St. staging area where relief efforts have been staging, effective Tuesday night.

Starting Wednesday, those services will be run out of the Oneida Recreation Center, the old Oneida Armory on Cedar Street.

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