Fort Plain flood recovery winding down


Recorder News Staff

FORT PLAIN -- Nearly two weeks after the Otsquago Creek overflowed into Fort Plain, causing massive damage, the village is quieting down and debris-lined streets are becoming less common.

"You gotta pick yourself up and just try to move on," Edna Andrews of Main Street, where she said there was "mud and water up to you know where" said. "If you can do that, you're OK. If you let yourself get down, you'll never get anywhere."

After encouraging residents to remove the last of the wreckage from their homes by posting several deadlines around the village, the final day for bulk pickup, Wednesday, up has finally past.

"Well, sort of," Adam Schwabrow, Montgomery County's emergency management director, said. "It's the last day that they're going to be doing bulk pickup where they're just going to be picking up anything that's on the curb."

Now, Schwabrow said, residents will have to call the village office to make an appointment and someone will come to pick it up.

Andrews said she's really relying on funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to continue restoring her home.

"The main thing I need is FEMA to get their butt in gear," Andrews said. "I don't think we're going to get anything from them though."

Andrews said if not, they'll be paying for costs with "money [they] don't have." She said they might even leave the village for good.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, though he has been pushing to achieve disaster area status for the county, said he isn't overly optimistic at a news conference Wednesday.

The decision has not been made, but state Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk has introduced legislation to help home and business owners reassess the values of their properties post-flooding. This will help avoid school tax bills that do not reflect the current status of the properties.

"Right now, the village has assessed this house at $68,000," Bob Andrews, Edna's husband, said.

"I'd bet we'd be lucky to get $20,000 now," Edna Andrews added.

The Andrews' said they don't know what they would have done if not for the volunteers who have been visiting her home almost daily to help.

Reformed Church of Fort Plain Pastor Nancy Ryan said volunteer numbers have dropped. Around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, she said they had received 30 since that morning, and she didn't expect to receive any more for the rest of the day.

She said that didn't include those who volunteered their efforts throughout the village without reporting to the church -- those she estimated to total between 150 and 250. She said the Amish community, which has had a large impact on Fort Plain's overall restoration, has stopped signing in and has just been heading out to sites to begin work.

Ryan also said the volunteers headquarters will be moving from the church to Haslett Park at the corner of Hancock and Main streets beginning Friday.

"The scope has become more centralized," Ryan said. "We've done all we can. We have to get back to [the church.]"

If people want to volunteer, Ryan said she encourages them to call 705-8695

The feeding site at the Senior Center, prepared by the American Red Cross, is set to close today, but volunteers will remain in the area. If severe weather or flooding returns overnight, it could be postponed.

Donations can still be made through, the 1-800-REDCROSS hotline and by texting REDCROSS to 90999 for a $10 donation.