GOWANDA - It has been three years since floodwaters invaded the village of Gowanda - and the village is still waiting for money it is owed.
The 2009 flood left Gowanda with severe damage, including destruction of Tri-County Memorial Hospital. Due to the damage, the village had to spend $1 million in repair costs.
"After the flood in 2009, as the village of Gowanda worked towards restoring its infrastructure, we received immediate help and assistance from local, county, state and federal agencies," said Heather McKeever, Gowanda mayor.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency was to reimburse the village for up to 75 percent of the costs, which would equal $750,000. FEMA has yet to pay the full amount.
"The issue that we now struggle with continues to be that even though Gowanda has been made whole physically, the village needs to be restored financially," McKeever said. "Gowanda is a small community and its residents continue to bare the burden of the interest payments on the money borrowed to complete the approved FEMA projects."
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is urging FEMA officials to not only pay the $750,000 owed to the village but to work with the village on $200,000 in interest payments, McKeever said. Schumer said the burden put on the village is "unacceptable."
"After nearly three years, it is absolutely unacceptable that the (village) of Gowanda is forced to bear the brunt of repair costs from the 2009 storm," Schumer said in a statement. "... Local residents and taxpayers deserve better, and it's clear we need the full support of the federal government to help get things back on track."
Gowanda has three project worksheets for repairs still needed in connection to the storm. The worksheets are used to reimburse municipalities by FEMA. The outstanding ones from Gowanda have been in processing at a joint field office, according to Schumer.
"I am encouraged by the continued and critical support from Senator Schumer and our local and state officials urging FEMA to fund the approved projects that have been completed and paid for by borrowed money," McKeever said. "The village continues to work closely with FEMA and as this remains a top priority we will be persistent until each FEMA project is fully funded."