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Senator Schumer tells Oneida County flood victims he is fighting for them

By GARY LIBERATORE

WHITESBORO, N.Y. (WKTV) - U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer says he heard Oneida County needed help, so he came to see the damage firsthand.

Schumer toured flood damaged Whitesboro on Monday afternoon and told residents he will fight for them in terms of getting them federal aid.

"When Katrina occurred, New York taxpayers helped out people who had trouble in Katrina," Senator Schumer said. "When that horrible tornado occurred in Joplin, Missouri, New York taxpayers helped out as part of the federal government and now that New York is on the line, we're not going to let them change the rules."

Schumer told the crowd of a few dozens residents along Sauquoit Street that he talked to the head of FEMA Monday and notified him that Oneida County needs help and he wants to get the county designated as a disaster area quickly, so that people here can get some much needed assistance.

Sauquoit Street homeowner Karen Hughes, also owns two other homes on the street that she rents out. All three have been badly damaged and says she has lost so much. She is hoping the senator's words turn into action.

"Hopefully it does come through, because right now we're in desperation," Hughes said. "Might get hot water tonight, I haven't had any since August 28. We're going to have 30 degree weather and none of us have got furnaces. I mean it's just amazing, it's overwhelming."

More than 20 counties have been designated disaster areas in New York State, but so far, not Oneida County, and Whitesboro Mayor Brenda Gilberti, who was with Schumer on his tour Monday afternoon, says residents are running out of patience.

"Everybody wants to know why not us," Mayor Gilberti said. "I mean, everybody in the state experienced horrible things, but Whitesboro...some people don't have the resources to replace it and they are just as important as everybody else."

Although the senator toured Whitesboro, anyone in Oneida County affected by the floods would be eligible for federal aid, if the county is designated a disaster area.

Utica Mayor David Roefaro was also among the contingent with Schumer, and says Utica residents have been hit hard too.

"Because it's not just one area, it's all of us together," Mayor Roefaro said. "I mean, I always say we're in this together and we are."

Senator Schumer also addressed the issue of the Sauquoit Creek, which has now gone over its boundaries three times this year, causing these residents three floods.

"If it doesn't get cleaned, people aren't going to stay around here much longer," said Lee Vanetten, who also lives along Sauquoit Street. "I can't be rebuilding my house every two weeks. I just don't have the money."

Senator Schumer says he will get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to look at the Sauquoit Creek, and also will meet with the State D.E.C. to get them involved as well, much to the applause of the several dozen residents who came out to talk to Schumer.

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