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New York state lawmakers trying to help flood-weary Mohawk Valley

Oneida County

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied individual assistanceto residents in Oneida County where last year's Halloween storm damaged 1,100 homes, County Executive Anthony Picente said it was shameful.

"I'm not sure what they looked at and what they saw over the time they were here and I continually ask how much more does it take for an area that has been inundated to receive its due from the federal government when it comes to its residents that have suffered time and time again," Picente said. 

Picente is more optimistic when it comes to New York state's government. Gov. Andrew Cuomo specifically mentioned the Mohawk Valley's flooding woes in his State of the State Address last month as part of his commitment to increase and update New York's emergency response team. He also proposed a $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act to address issues stemming from climate change, like flooding across the state.

Picente, who is currently implementing flooding mitigation with assistance and funding from local governments, is hopeful about what help the state could offer in this effort.

"There needs to be a grander plan, so I’m intrigued by what the governor has proposed, but I do want to see more about it," He said. "I want to understand, as always, the details of it and specifically what areas it's going to look at regarding those flood plains."

Picente is also hopeful that the New York State Legislature might act on a bill proposed by Oneida County State Sen. Joe Griffo and Utica-area Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon. Their home buyout billwould create a system where local governments could purchase homes in flood-prone areas from homeowners who are currently unable to sell these properties at fair-market value. It could save local governments the costs associated with emergency services to these properties and allow them to repurpose the land into open, public spaces.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.