To the editor:
As a candidate for the New York State Assembly, it is important for the people in the 111th Assembly District to know if their leaders have a plan for disaster prevention. As chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, I was responsible for overseeing the aftermath of two area floods in 2006 and 2011. It's never easy to anticipate what Mother Nature will do -- so I believe the best approach for flood prevention and mitigation is a comprehensive one.
Prevention and Planning Measures:
1) Study -- Conduct a study of Gilboa Dam (and others if necessary) and waterways (Schoharie Creek, etc.) in and around Montgomery and Schenectady counties.
2) Maintenance and Reclamation -- The state, state departments, towns and local departments need to be both aggressive and serious about stream-bank reclamation and stream maintenance. All waterways need to be cleaned out on an annual basis. Programs should be in place to not only ensure streams can carry water, but also have water-reserve areas that will be able to slow the water down. Adequate funding and personnel is necessary for this.
3) Preparedness -- Increase emergency first-responder (fire, police, ambulance, etc.) grant money for state-of-the-art rescue and preparedness equipment.
4) Awareness -- During the 2011 flood, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed a liaison to local leaders who would be the go-to person in the event flooding occurred in affected counties, informing the administration.
Recovery Effort Measures:
5) Flood-Mitigation Funding -- Due to Hurricane Irene, the state needed to spend an unanticipated $574 million in flood-recovery aid. While this aid helped thousands of homeowners, communities and businesses rebuild, there are some who fell through the cracks. To help those victims, I would urge the sponsorship and passage of Assembly Bill 10492/P. Lopez, or the "Whole Communities Recovery Act of 2012," which would provide assistance to homeowners, businesses, farmers, municipalities, school districts and community-response teams for expenses incurred as a result of a disaster declared by the governor.
6) Sponsor and Pass Assembly Bill 8643A/Tedisco -- Establishes a credit against income tax for residents and business owners who incurred damage to property as a result of tropical storms Irene and Lee.
The writer is a candidate for the state Assembly in the 111th District.