GOWANDA - About six months shy of the four-year anniversary of a devastating flood, the village of Gowanda is finally seeing movement on money owed. Sen. Charles Schumer announced recently the last $1.3 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency funding will be released to the village.
"The delivery of this long-deserved and much-delayed FEMA funding is a big win for the taxpayers in the village of Gowanda. I saw firsthand the damage done by the 2009 floods and committed to doing everything in my power to making sure Gowanda got the federal assistance it deserved. When I heard that foot-dragging by FEMA was costing the village hundreds of thousands of dollars, I was outraged," Schumer said in a press release.
Schumer has sent multiple letters to top administrators at FEMA urging them to release the money. He sent letters to Administrator Craig Fugate in March and again in December 2012. Schumer also made repeated phone calls to FEMA urging them to reimburse the village.
"After sending several letters to Administrator (Craig) Fugate, and speaking with both him and other top FEMA officials, I am thrilled that FEMA has done the right thing and given the 'OK' to release over $1.3 million to the village," he continued.
Following a flood in 2009, the village was required to take out a $5 million bond anticipation note to cover the costs of 70 projects which had to be repaired due to the destruction. The village has incurred over $200,000 in interest due to the lack of reimbursement from FEMA for these projects. Without this reimbursement, the village would have to roll over the bond anticipation note costing the village more money in interest.
"The 2009 floods were a disaster for Gowanda, and we have been working hard ever since to rebuild and move on. These outstanding project costs were a weight on the village's finances, and we are very thankful for all of Senator Schumer's efforts to get us the funding we were promised," said Gowanda Mayor Heather McKeever. "As soon as the community came together and told the Senator we were having problems getting this funding, he jumped into action and would not leave FEMA alone until we received these reimbursements."
This final payment will cover six of the remaining projects and most of the outstanding amount of the BAN. The projects which will be reimbursed under this payment are: repair work on the erosion incurred from the flooding, stream bank restoration and repair to the village reservoir which was filled with seven feet of mud after the flood. Two other projects are still under review by FEMA and the state Office of Emergency Management.