In the two weeks since the Otsquago Creek overflowed its banks and flooded Fort Plain, ruining lives as well as homes and businesses, elected officials at all levels have been pressuring the federal government to step in and provide aid to this stricken village.
Fortunately, that help came through. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that federal help will be coming to several flood-impacted counties, including Montgomery County.
Floods like the one that happened June 28 are devastating to small communities like Fort Plain, and the folks there deserve all the help they can get.
Cuomo also said he’d consider recalling the Legislature back to Albany to see what could be done to help the village. State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk has proposed legislation that would allow properties to be reassessed so owners can get a break on school tax bills, which are scheduled to be sent out in September.
Every little bit helps, but we fear assistance from the state won’t be enough. The FEMA aid should provide a much-needed boost.
Like many communities, Fort Plain has had its share of struggles over the years, and disasters like this most recent flooding only serve to make matters worse. In addition to the heavy damage sustained by homes, Mayor Guy Barton has said that nearly 90 businesses in the village — most of them mom-and-pop shops — may have to shut down for good.
In a small community like Fort Plain, that can have a devastating effect on the local economy.
It’s not like the villagers are standing around waiting for handouts, either. Volunteers have poured in to help, and many of Fort Plain’s Amish neighbors have come in and have simply gotten to work helping people clean out and repair properties that sustained heavy damage. Neighboring local governments have also provided assistance, and even the National Guard has come to the village’s aid. Emergency officials from the state and Montgomery County have worked around the clock to help Fort Plain recover from this disaster.
In addition, some of the businesses are determined to make a go of it despite the many challenges that lie ahead. If anything, these floods prove that folks in the Mohawk Valley are a hearty bunch and will do anything to get back on their feet.
Having a federal disaster declaration has its advantages, though. It frees up the federal government to help provide housing, grants and and other aid to help cover the costs of rebuilding the damaged infrastructure.
That assistance is just what Fort Plain needs to recover from this latest catastrophe. We’re encouraged to see that state officials pledge all the help they can muster. The federal government was right to do the same.