ALBANY, N.Y. -- Repairs to Bennett Street Park in the Village of McGraw, Cortland County, damaged during the June 2006 flooding were designed to a higher standard, and may be less vulnerable to future flooding.
Thanks to a New York State and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) policy, extra funding is provided to mitigate against future damages to public infrastructure.
June’s torrential rains pushed Trout Brook out of it banks and eroded a 350-foot by 35-foot section of the park, including about 100 feet of the park’s jogging trail.
The flooding washed away 32 feet of land, eight feet deep, said Chuck Brown, highway supervisor of the Village of McGraw. “When repairing this stream, we put in three-foot rocks to divert its flow to move straight versus curving and eroding away at the banks as it did before,” he said. Brown added, “If we didn’t repair this area, we would have lost the bridge here with another storm of June’s magnitude.”
President Bush signed a major disaster declaration for New York State as a result of the 2006 flooding.
The disaster declaration triggered the Public Assistance Program in Cortland County to reimburse government entities and certain non-profits for emergency protective measures and the repair of damaged public infrastructure.
FEMA provides 75 percent of the grant funding. The 25 percent non-federal share is funded by the state. The New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) administers the program.
A major FEMA and SEMO goal is to mitigate, where it is cost effective, when restoring damaged infrastructure so the repaired facility is better able to withstand future disaster damages. Extra money spent now can reduce future impacts and costs.
SEMO and FEMA have approved about $65,000 in park repair costs, plus an additional $16,600 in mitigation funds. Cortland County Soil and Water Conversation added a grant of $27,855, for the approximate $45,000 cost to place riprap along the restored stream bank. Riprap is rock placed on embankment slopes to prevent erosion. The riprap is to reduce damage at this site from future flooding events. The total project costs approximately $82,000, of which the federal share is approximately $61,500.
“Mitigation activities such as these are a smart way of doing business by spending monies now to lessen the threat to communities before an event occurs in the future,” said State Coordinating Officer John R. Gibb, Director of SEMO.
“This is an excellent example of an investment in improvements that will pay dividends for years to come,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Marianne C. Jackson.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.