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Fearing the FEMA assessment: What if the region doesn't qualify?

By NICOLE PITT

HERKIMER COUNTY (WKTV) - It could be anywhere from two days to two months before we hear if the region will qualify for FEMA aid. Now, Governor Cuomo is saying he's not optimistic about the declaration from the White House.

FEMA Aid is broken down into two categories. One category is referred to as "public" - that includes the damage to the roadways, county and village owned property. The other is called "private," and that would cover the personal property and belongings of residents.

The chairman of the Herkimer County Legislature Vincent Bono says there's a good chance the damage to public property will meet the criteria. "The public assessment we should make with no problem," said Bono. Herkimer County alone has at least $10 million worth of infrastructure projects that need to be addressed as far as road work, bridge work, the Mohawk substation needs to be replaced to the tune of between $5 and 7 million alone right there."

But as for damage to homes, Bono says FEMA's assessment of the damage might not be high enough. It's exactly the news everyone dealing with flood damage does NOT want to hear. "We're rural. To get a good snapshot I don't think FEMA did a fair assessment. Not cutting them short but I think they need to spend more time here than just two or three days," said Bono.

Bono says in order for Herkimer County to qualify for "private" FEMA Aid the total damage to personal property would have to exceed $2.3 million. "Herkimer County we've had a tragedy in March with the shootings and now the flooding. We've been kicked in the head one too many times now and we need a break and we just need somebody to say hey we're there for you," said Bono.

Governor Cuomo says if the federal declaration does not come, he will call an emergency session of the state legislature to try and help out the flood victims. Bono says that could mean many things..including low interest loans and other grant opportunities for residents.

When asked if the county would be able to help out residents in any way, Bono said "It's preliminary right now. Normally it's handled through the state or federal but I haven't talked with any of our legislators yet but I'm sure that's going to be a conversation on our table very soon. As a matter of fact, we have meetings next week and that will come up. We've aided municipalities with infrastructure needs and things like that but as far as each individual homeowner our budget just doesn't dictate that. It can't handle that."

Bono says he wishes he had better news for his constituents, but in the meantime he is asking everyone to stick together. "Pray. You know we will do everything in our power. Here's what is disheartening. We the Mohawk Valley, have been very generous when it comes to relief of any type when it comes to disasters or relief of any type or charity have been very generous..now it's our turn to get help."

"You tell people be patient and pray," said Bono. "Rely on your family and your friends until then. I could shed a tear.. To see people out there. They lost everything. We're a poor county. We live paycheck to paycheck."

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