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In The Adirondacks

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Notes from the North Country

Keene, Jay among flood-preparedness grant recipients

Two of the Adirondack communities hardest hit by Tropical Storm Irene are among recipients of $50,000 state grants to help them prepare for the next big weather event.

The towns of Keene and Jay both experienced major flooding from the historic Aug. 28 storm, and were among 13 communities that received funding, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

Keene, where the hamlets of Keene and Keene Valley at one point had nearly all its road connections to the outside world cut, is receiving a $50,000 grant to develop a long-term stream restoration plan. Among projects would be an assessment of the work done along Johns Brook and the Ausable River in the immediate aftermath of the storm, much of which has been criticized as causing further environmental damage by creating unnatural streambeds.

The grant will be administered in partnership with Essex County and the Town of Jay. According to Cuomo's office, the plan will identify projects and actions to reduce the town's vulnerability to future storms.

Jay, also working in partnership with Essex County and the town of Keene, will use a separate $50,000 grant to develop a plan that addresses housing, infrastructure, and businesses recovery needs, with the goals of reducing the risk of flooding damage while also protecting the natural environment. Jay and Upper Jay both experienced significant flood damage from Irene.

The recovery strategy will identify specific projects and action items, state officials said.

The plans being developed by both towns will be coordinated with the Ausable Watershed Management planning process.

Meanwhile, Essex and Clinton counties will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16, at the Jay Community Center, for people interested in learning more about possible federal or state buy-outs of their damaged and flood-prone properties.

"So far, Essex County has received over 60 property acquisition/buyout preliminary interest forms from residents affected by Tropical Storm Irene, and 45 of those homes are located within the town of Jay," said Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas, who is also chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors.

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