KENT, NY – In several communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline, the State of New York has brought in mobile command posts to offer residents whose homes and properties are threatened by rising waters, information about assistance they might be eligible for.
About 100 lakeshore denizens headed to a state trailer set up at County Marine Park on Point Breeze Road on Thursday, to seek assistance with insurance claims.
“I think it’s nice that they’re here,” said John Keller of Yates, moments after stopping into the trailer, even though he was told he probably wouldn’t be getting assistance.
“They told me that the state could help in cases where people lose their homes and don’t have insurance to cover it,” Keller told WGRZ-TV. “But in my case, I’ve lost several feet of my property to erosion, but my home is okay. So I don’t think I’ll be getting any help for that.”
“I think it’s kind of useless,” said CeCe DeRomanis, who stopped to inquire about aid as a representative of the nearby Oak Orchard Yacht Club.
“We have 48 docks, and most are underwater so you can’t even walk on them. We also built a brand new main walkway just this year, and it is underwater and probably destroyed,” said DeRomanis, who also said she got no answers from state officials on what kind of assistance might be forthcoming if any.
"I don't how to say this, but to me that looked like more of a photo opportunity for whatever office was sent down here," said George Lacey who owns Captains Cove, comprised of a marina, tackle shop, and small motel in Waterport,
Lacey brought in piles of gravel in an attempt to protect his business. But it was to no avail, as the water eventually submerged his docks and got inside the building that houses the tackle shop and rental office.
And while the motel, which sits atop a knoll remains unscathed, fishermen participating in the ongoing ESLO Tournament, and who had booked rooms, summarily cancelled their reservations due to their inability to dock at Captains Cove.
"The worst part is…their jobs..", Lacey said, his voice faltering as he gathered his emotions while referring to his five employees who –so long as he is out of business- will remain out of work.
“People need to understand how deeply this situation is affecting this region,” he said.
Some residents, however, had high praise for the state agencies- particularly the Department of Environmental Conservation, which is expediting the permit process for the construction and repair of break walls essential to protecting against erosion.
Its goal is to considerably significantly cut the normal six month time frame for approvals, according
“This is one piece of many,” said Orleans County Legislator Ken DeRoller, who visited the trailer with Kendall Town Supervisor Tony Cammarata. “There's no one stop shop yet, so we need to work together as a team."
Cammarata, whose town’s highway garage is serving as a base for national guardsmen sent in by the state to fill and deliver sandbags to water logged properties, urged residents to keep the faith
“We understand that the state senate approved emergency funding last night, and we're waiting for the assembly to do its part, and once they do it and the governor signs it then I think there might be some relief for those people that are under an emergency situation,” Cammarata said.
During a visit late Thursday afternoon to the Bald Eagle Marina in Kendall, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul told WGRZ-TV that the state is working with the federal and local governments at unprecedented levels of cooperation to do what it can.
Hochul warned, however, that the state has no control over the weather or the lake level, which is set by the International Joint Commission.
“We know the problems being caused by the near record high water levels will persist for some time. We just need people to know that we are going to take whatever action we possibly can to provide relief and assistance”, Hochul said.