ALBANY, N.Y. -- Over the past nine years, the Town of Cornwall has averted damage in flood prone areas by performing preventative work funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).
The New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) oversees FEMA mitigation programs throughout the State.
With FEMA mitigation grants, work began in 2001 on Long Hill Road. Pipes were put under the existing roadway to help convey the excess storm water flows from heavy rains. Previously, there were ditches on the road side, which overtopped and resulted in flooding.
In 2004, under another FEMA mitigation grant, Rosehill Park and Poplar and Elm Streets had pipes laid under the pavement, also undertaken to convey excess water from rains and storms. In 2006, similar work of laying underground pipes was done in the Mine Hill Road area under another FEMA grant.
FEMA funds were utilized over the past nine years, to mitigate hazardous situations, such as flooding from heavy rains, to the Town of Cornwall’s infrastructure, noted Robert. J. Conley, Cornwall’s Superintendent of Highways.
"The upgrades in drainage facilities have been a huge improvement in all three locations," added Mr. Conley.
Previously, Long Hill Road had to be closed during heavy rains because the pipes were too narrow at one location on the road, Mr. Conley explained. Mine Hill Road drainage has been improved by placing all drainage underground with catch basins, piping and a vast amount of cross pipes to break up the flows, instead of having one large flow of water to one location.
Under the old system, the road washed out during Tropical Storm Floyd. This caused a hazard to residents living on the road, as there was only one way to enter and exit the area, leaving no access for emergency vehicles, Mr. Conley said.
"The difference is like night and day in the area as a result of the improvement," said long-time resident, Anita Orlando, who has lived in the same house in Rose Hill Park for over 42 years.
When Mrs. Orlando moved into her house, she said the surrounding land had not been developed and her home was damaged by rains and floods. "The area could not handle more than three inches of water from rain," she noted. After underground pipes were laid in 2005, she has not experienced any problems. "The work has been a godsend," she said.
Another Rose Hill Park resident, Ellen Kelly, who had lived in her home for 19 years, said the mitigation work had made a "dramatic difference." She noted that after the drainage pipes had been installed, she and her family "could live after a storm without swimming through a pond in our backyard. The mitigation money has been well spent," she said.
Richard Lord, Chief of Mitigation Programs at SEMO, said, "Projects such as these in the Town of Cornwall illustrate the value of pro-active mitigation work. They help to protect lives and property from recurring disasters and substantially reduce losses of taxpayer dollars."
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders and to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.