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County seeks federal help

ELIZABETHTOWN -Supervisors in Essex County have their fingers crossed, hoping that President Barack Obama will declare the region a disaster area.

"I have had three conversations with Congressman Bill Owens, and he is really pushing for us," County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas said at the May 2 board meeting. "This does have a great shot to get a federal declaration. The preliminary numbers show that there could be $10 to $12 million in damages in Essex County."

Douglas said that he has stayed in contact with Gov. Andrew Cuomo since he visited the town of Moriah April 29.

"We gave the governor a preliminary package at that time," Douglas said. "Our situation is on their radar, and their communication with me was, 'Forget about the red tape and we will do whatever we can to help these communities out.'"

Douglas said that the governor and federal representatives would continue to monitor the situation. If the county reaches the $25 million plateau in terms of damages, then the area could be declared a federal emergency zone.

Several supervisors talked about the damages they have seen in their communities.

"We are losing a road at Port Douglas," Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said. "There are things in our community that are now just showing up, so I am sure that the number needed for funding is going to rise."

"We are still looking at numbers, but we are approaching $500,000 in damages," Westport Supervisor Daniel Connell said. "We are looking at $200,000 to $400,000 for just one road."

"We have farms that have lost their bridges and this is a prime season for them," Keene Supervisor William Ferebee said. "They can't move."

"We have been going all over with the roads that have been washed out and closed," Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava said. "There is going to be more coming to the surface as far as damages as time goes by."

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