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The Telegram
  • Storm cleanup, repairs delayed projects

  • Road shoulder erosion.

    Creek bank failures.

    Sections of roads completely gone.

    These are just some of the issues that county and municipal highway and public works departments have had to deal with since those summertime storms, pushing back the day-to-day activities and projects scheduled for the summer.

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  • Road shoulder erosion.
    Creek bank failures.
    Sections of roads completely gone.
    These are just some of the issues county and municipal highway and public works departments have had to deal with since those summertime storms, pushing back the day-to-day activities and projects scheduled for the summer.
    Capital construction in Herkimer County has “been delayed because we were doing repairs on damaged areas,” said Jay Ewanyk, county highway superintendent.
    Ewanyk said that managing the flooding situation plus all the regular work requires assessing priorities. “Things get delayed, but we have to prioritize,” he said. “When you have a flood situation — an emergency situation — that becomes our focus.”
    The damage from the storms has been substantial: In Herkimer County, Ewanyk said estimates are nearly $2 million.
    “It was a much more severe storm that generated a large amount of water in a short period of time,” he said about confluence of the summer rains. “Way on and above what we’ve ever seen in the past.”
    Damage in Oneida County is around $1 million, said Brian Scala, the county Department of Public Works deputy commissioner.
    In the smaller communities, such as the village of Herkimer, the cost of damage still is being assessed.
    The challenges
    Peter Macri, Herkimer Department of Public Works superintendent, said nine streets and two bridges were damaged. Now, all but Maple Grove Avenue on the north side of the village is open.
    “Pretty much up until last week, we really weren’t doing anything routine other than some basic garbage pick up and mowing,” he said. “We’ve put our paving project on hold for now.”
    With only nine employees, Macri said trying to work on several projects at the same time is difficult; however, state Department of Transportation crews were there to help.
    “If it wasn’t for them I don’t know what route we could have taken to get things cleaned up,” Macri said.
    Ewanyk said projects put on hold will go relatively unnoticed by residents.
    “They won’t see us working on those roads, but their lives aren’t going to be affected by it,” he said.
    In Oneida County, work that was started or completed after the storms was undone.
    Scala said initially the roads were “shored up” and “now we’re just getting around back to them to do the final repair.”
    Other than that, Scala said the department is pretty much on schedule.
    “We’re kind of pleased with that,” he said.
    Funding
    Now, departments must ensure all the documentation is ready in order to receive federal funding.
    It was announced in mid-July that public assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be made available to 12 counties, including Herkimer, Oneida and Madison.
    Page 2 of 2 - Damage to public infrastructure had exceeded the state’s $26.7 million per capita baseline with an estimated more than $32.7 million in damage.
    The federal Department of Transportation also recently announced that $5 million in flood relief would be provided to help aid repairs on eligible roads such as state routes 51 and 5.
    Scala said they’re waiting to hear from FEMA before doing extensive construction on roads.
    Ewanyk said FEMA will cover 75 percent of expenditures, so he’s been keeping good records of the damage.
    “The want to see how we repaired it — our cost for labor, equipment and materials all have to be documented,” he said. “FEMA comes in and they’re looking for that data.”
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