Schoharie County panel compiles disaster preparedness wish list
SCHOHARIE COUNTY New sites for emergency evacuation shelters, rebuilding storm drainage and warehousing essential emergency supplies are among several ideas being considered by a disaster-response committee focusing on the town and village of Esperance and villages of Middleburgh and Schoharie.
A committee representing these municipalities is compiling requests for slices of $12 million in state funding available as part of the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program.
A 75-page conceptual plan is now online for public review, and the committee is preparing to prioritize projects that together would well exceed the amount of funding available.
“There’s a lot more in there than $12 million is going to cover, for sure,” said Sara Goodrich, co-chairwoman of the local NY Rising Committee and director of SALT, the Schoharie-based flood recovery organization formed after Tropical Storm Irene.
The Irene and Lee disasters caused an estimated $130 million worth of damage to infrastructure and $39 million worth of damage to homes in Schoharie County, according to the draft.
Homeowners and flood-stricken communities are preparing to confront a spike in flood insurance rates orchestrated by the federal government in an effort to make sure there’s enough money to pay claims after floods.
And while there’s an ongoing discussion with calls for the government to stave off massive increases, all of the Schoharie County NY Rising communities are considering another way to help — the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Ratings System.
Currently, the town of Esperance is among 28 municipalities in the state that secured discounts on flood insurance rates.
By taking steps to focus on public information, mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction and flood preparedness, municipalities can achieve discounts on flood insurance premiums as high as 45 percent.
The draft includes a goal in the town of Esperance — where residents were cut off by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene — to get emergency evacuation shelters established in places people can get to during floods.
Town Supervisor Earl Van Wormer III said he believes one of the first priorities in town would be to ensure the firehouses — one in Esperance and the other in Central Bridge — are up to date and, if possible, moved out of the flood zone.
“Obviously, they’re our first responders and they help get people out,” he said.
Another priority is focusing on water and sewer service and ensuring they can withstand the next flood.
The draft of the committee’s conceptual plan can be viewed on the NY Rising website at http://bit.ly/186KRo4.
A link beneath the document opens up a new window residents can use to provide input.
Goodrich said the committee is scheduled to meet next Thursday, Dec. 6. Details, once set, will be posted on the website.