FEMA denies

— Property owners across the North Country won’t be able to tap federal funds for repairs and clean-up associated with historic spring flooding.

That’s according to a letter issued to state and local officials by the New York State Office of Emergency Management. The news was handed down recently by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“It’s not a popular decision, it’s unfortunate and it’s very frustrating,” Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randall “Randy” Douglas said after the news was announced. “I am very frustrated with it, as is Congressman Owens.”

Individual assistance had previously been denied, but Governor Andrew Cuomo appealed.

Homeowners in Clinton, Essex, and Franklin counties incurred millions of dollars in damage from flooding this spring. FEMA has already pledged support to help public entities rebuild infrastructure.

FEMA officials say the damage to residences wasn’t bad enough to warrant the release of more federal funds.

“It’s based on a criteria and our state is considered a large area,” Douglas said. “The figures said that we needed somewhere in the area of 800 houses, and we are in the 250-to-300 range.”

Douglas disagrees with the FEMA statement that the damage does not warrant the receiving of funds.

“We do desperately need help,” Douglas said. “I do not know how some of our constituents are going to pay for these repairs without this assistance. I don’t know how they are going to recover.”

North Country Congressman Bill Owens says homeowners may still be able to get aid, if the Small Business Administration issues a physical disaster declaration.

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