ALBANY, N.Y. -- Repairs to a storm water culvert under Pennsylvania Avenue in the Town of Catskill, Greene 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 rain washed away a 40-foot long by 16-foot wide by six-foot high aluminum culvert that carried water under Pennsylvania Avenue.
“That culvert was made of aluminum,” said Alfie Beers, the superintendent of highways for the Town of Catskill. “I said it wouldn’t last and it didn’t. Lasted four years. These things need to be concrete. The new one will be, and that should solve this problem.”
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 Greene 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 approximately $120,000 in culvert replacements costs. They also approved an additional $118,000 to put in a larger, concrete culvert – 40 percent larger -- to improve the culvert’s ability to handle future flooding events. The total project costs approximately $238,000, of which the federal share is approximately $178,700.
“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.