DEC: Permits may be necessary for flood repairs

The state Department of Environmental Conservation wants North Country property owners to know that permits and other authorizations may be necessary before clean-up and repair from this spring's flooding can get under way.

Massive flooding across northern New York in April and May resulted in significant damage to shorelines, riverbanks, and stream banks.

Water levels have receded in most areas and are slowly returning to normal along Lake Champlain. In May, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a disaster area across much of upstate New York, and earlier this month President Barack Obama followed suit with a federal disaster area declaration.

That action will pump funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency into public infrastructure repair projects.

But as private property owners prepare to rebuild, state environmental officials say acquiring the necessary permits is a must.

Property owners are being encouraged to check with the DEC's Environmental Permits Office in order to determine if a permit or some other official authorization is needed. Most projects aimed at restoring shorelines or banks, as well as those geared toward erosion protection, are subject to a permit application process, officials say.

In a statement issued Monday by DEC Region 5 spokesman David Winchell, officials say they understand the hardship that this spring's flooding has created for property owners.

In light of that hardship, DEC staff will make flood damage related projects a priority for review and response, Winchell says.

DEC staff stresses that obtaining the necessary permits is important not only for legal reasons, but because property owners will need to present them in order to receive reimbursement from federal or state emergency funds.

Environmental officials are also encouraging property owners to document damages by taking photos. Those photos will be useful when applying for permits.

More information on permits for flood repairs can be obtained at the DEC's website, www.dec.ny.gov, or by calling Region 5 headquarters in Ray Brook at 897-1234.

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