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Politics and Government

Mohawk Valley leaders take steps to avoid another Halloween 2019 storm

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Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente
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On October 31, 2019, parts of the Mohawk Valley experienced flash floods that devastated some residential neighborhoods.

On Halloween night in 2019, parts of the Mohawk Valley were inundated with flash floods, resulting in millions of dollars in damages to homes, businesses, and infrastructure. Ahead of the anniversary of the devastating storm, local leaders are taking steps to prevent a repeat. 

Utica Mayor Rob Palmieri's administration recently invested $250,000 on executing the flood mitigation plan it crafted last year including repairing and replacing pipes and improving drainage infrastructure. 

"There’s no question that the weather patterns have changed," Palmieri said. "We're getting unprecedented volumes of rain: 2-3 inches in 45 minutes, which really at times no matter what you do it’s almost impossible to be able to capture the capacity of that amount of water, but in saying that there are things that we have done and that we are doing to mitigate as much as we possibly can." 

In an effort to obtain more funding for projects like these Mohawk Valley Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) submitted a report to FEMA this month that catalogs the extent of last year's flooding and how susceptible the area is to future flooding events. FEMA denied federal funds for the cleanup from that storm.

"With good information you make good decisions and with this report I am now armed with the best information to make the case to the federal government as to why this community needs help," Brindisi said in a press release. "My hope is the relevant federal agencies use this information to make better flood mitigation and buyout decisions in the future before this happens again."

One area of potential relief that won't come through this year for the region is Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed Restore Mother Nature Act, an environmental spending package to invest $3 billion in flood mitigation efforts throughout the state. It passed the New York State Legislature this year, but due to the pandemic it has been postponed for consideration by the voters until November 2021.