The first steps on the long road to recovery moved forward, slowly, Monday night, as Yates County held a public informational meeting in the Penn Yan Middle School Auditorium. The 250 people in attendance were anxious to find out what to do next, now that the storm is past and the recovery phase has begun. Birkett Mills President and CEO, Jeff Gifford, helped organize the meeting and explained its purpose:
Based on preliminary estimates, Gifford said last week's storm caused upwards of five million dollars in damage. He encouraged residents to submit rough estimates of their losses so the county can qualify for federal assistance through FEMA and the SBA.
Gifford said the community met the disaster head on and never flinched:
Other speakers included: Penn Yan Mayor Leigh MacKerchar, who was notably touched by the events of the past week and spoke with pride of the community's strength of character:
MacKerchar jokingly mentioned television cameras were covering the meeting because they expected to see an "angry mob." The Mayor couldn't resist the opportunity to push the media's buttons:
MacKerchar said that Steve Griffin of the County's Economic Development Center would field questions pertaining to business losses and questions about assitance. For individuals dealing with housing issues, MacKerchar said residents should contact Keuka Housing Council.
Brian Winslow, the head of the county's Emergency Management office, provided an update on relief efforts and offered some useful information for residents in need:
Winslow also gave an assessment of Penn Yan's public facilities:
Winslow's office will collect damage reports from home and business owners for submission to the state and federal government. His office will be assisted by Nora Porter of the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. Porter explained that it's too early to determine whether Yates County will be eligible for federal disaster relief:
Porter said to be eligible for FEMA, the state and county must reach a total dollar threshold of damages to public facilities; such as buildings and bridges, but in the case of individuals, FEMA has a different means of determining eligibility:
Porter said the SBA threshold is much easier to attain. She explained the SBA formula for determining eligibility:
Several residents asked questions concerning the cost of repairing flood damage, but were advised to seek answers after the meeting.
Meanwhile, the county released a statement reminding the public that the state of emergency remains in effect and that a boater's advisory requires that boaters travel 5 miles per hour or less on Seneca, Keuka and Canandaigua Lakes. Sheriff Ron Spike said the caution is due to the fact that the lakes are filled with floating debris and that many docks are still under water.
WFLR aired Monday's information session live and is now available in our "On Demand" section by clicking HERE.
Photos by Lucas Day:
A portion of the standing room only crowd of flood victims that gathered Monday night
Penn Yan Mayor Leigh MacKercher addressing residents
Jeff Gifford, whose Birkett Mills sustained flood damage, helped organize Monday's event
County Emergency Management Director Brian Winslow updated residents on county roads and infrastructure
Nora Porter with the Department of Homeland Security discussed possible options for victims
The following are recovery resources in Yates County: For Businesses: Finger Lakes Economic Development Center 1 Keuka Business Park, Penn Yan 315-536-7328 www.fingerlakesedc.com 0% loans available. Applications available online and at the site. For Homeowners: Keuka Housing Council, Inc. 160 Main Street, Penn Yan 315-536-8707 www.keukahousingcouncil.org Applications for emergency repairs (furnaces, water heaters, sump pumps) available online or at offices. Temporary housing will be available soon. Grants and low interest loans as they become available. The Living Well Memorial Building at the Methodist Church 168 Main Street, Penn Yan 315-521-6833 www.pyumcd.org/TheLivingWell Flood cleanup, volunteer coordination, referrals to other services.