Yates County officials look to FEMA for flood assistance

Clear333track1west/via flickr
May 20, 2014

Heavy rains caused flash flooding last week in Penn Yan and parts of Yates County. Governor Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the county. A week later, residents are scrambling to get estimates on the damages in hopes of securing federal assistance.

Doug Marchionda is a life long resident of Penn Yan. Marchionda owns an excavation company located on Champlain Ave, the epicenter of the flooding.

He says rain started around one am.

“And it rose from in a safe level in our creek to near sixteen feet of water in about 45 minutes,” says Marchionda.

Marchionda says his property has been condemned and estimates there’s more than 2 million dollars in damages. He says he’s lucky it was just his office building; he still has a dry bed to sleep in. But he says the homes around his business were condemned too, and now they have nothing.

“We’ve got to find someway for the government to step in and help them,” says Marchionda.

That was the point of a meeting held in the Penn Yan Middle School Monday night. County officials want FEMA to declare the county a disaster area. But the federal government will only step in if the county can prove the damage is more than they or the state can handle.

Brent Bodine is the public works director for Penn Yan. He encouraged residents to get their estimates in as quickly as possible.

“Without those numbers they don’t know where you are. I mean, you go look at the damage and it looks bad but they need to know details. So that’s what we’re working on,” says Bodine. 

Bodine says there is a $26 million threshold before the federal government will step in. There is no estimate yet on the total damage or how long it will take to collect all the needed information.