WHITESBORO, N.Y. - At the first Whitesboro Village board meeting since the Halloween flood, many residents showed up to voice their concerns and ask village officials for help.
The meeting was held at the Whitesboro Fire Department to accommodate the larger number of residents that were expected to show up. There were over 50 residents that were at Tuesday night's meeting, many residents are still without gas and electric, some without a home.
Everyone expressing their frustration, including the village's mayor, because they've been through this time and time again.
The mayor is asking the federal government to come in and buyout the homes that have been destroyed, even if that means losing tax roll money. He says his residents and their health and well being is more important to him than a tax base.
"These people haven't suffered just one flood, they've suffered flood and flood after flood, there's no longer any knots to tie at the end of the rope to hang on to," Mayor Bob Friedland said. "They can't hear excuses and solutions other than a buyout, they need answers they need financial assistance now so they can go someplace else and start life and not have to worry about when it rains, am I going to get flooded out and lose everything."
Vincent Turczyn has been a Whitesboro resident since 2002. He says he's been through six flood, and each one has gotten worse, but he agrees with the mayor that something needs to be done now to help the residents who have been dealing with so much.
"It's good to hear that the mayor is supportive of potential buyouts because I think thats ultimately what has to happen for some of us," Turczyn said. "It's nice to hear that they're still going to try to finish the flood benches, it's good to see that they want to do stuff but I know that it's not a qucik fix, there's no quick fix here."
Whitestown Town Supervisor Shaun Kaleta was at the meeting, defending the Sauquoit Creek Channel and Floodplain Restoration project. Kaleta spoke about the project, and that the floodplain benches that have been completed did make a difference, but that was only phase one. Phase two is expected to start in early 2020. Kaleta says while this isn't a quick fix, it will be a long term solution to the problem once all of the floodplain benches are complete.
The mayor says right now there are at least 18 homes deemed unlivable and 50 homes without gas and electric. He says he will continue to make phone calls to elected officials, including the governor, to try and get help for the people in the village, but he believes the ultimate solution is for FEMA to come in and buyout the houses.
That process wouldn't be a quick or easy one, because it would take three to five years if a buyback was approved, and the state has to meet $29.6 million in damages for FEMA to come in.
The mayor also says he is working on other solutions to help prevent this devastation, such as a siren to notify people of a pending disaster. He says the village is still working on those avenues, and he'd love to hear from anyone who has any other ideas.