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One year later: Recovery, relief efforts continue a year after Aug. 18 flash flood

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One year after Tropical Storm Fred ripped through southern Steuben County, recovery and relief efforts continue.

While the immediate and severe impact of the Aug. 18 storm forced residents to evacuate along the Tuscarora Creek, the Canisteo River and nearby tributaries and destroyed homes and damaged dozens of businesses, the damage to roads, bridges, and the Jasper school was almost incomprehensible.

Some 29 county routes in the towns of Addison, Canisteo, Cameron, Greenwood, Hornellsville, Jasper, Rathbone, Troupsburg, Tuscarora and West Union were damaged by the storm, with 50 county-owned bridges/culverts experiencing severe erosion.

Roads damaged the worst by the surging flood water and debris were CR 31 in the Town Jasper; CR 85 in Tuscarora and CR 129 in the Town of Woodhull.

Road repairs are nearly complete, with repairs around the bridge and culvert structures expected to continue for several months, county Public Works Commissioner Eric Rose said this week, but many Town roads in the area are still under repair.

The county Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Jeff Parker and his small crew have been instrumental in managing the bridge/culvert projects and providing additional equipment and operators, Rose said.

The notable exception to road repairs is a stretch of CR 129, with traffic still restricted to a single lane near a high wall separating the Tuscarora and the road. The wall caught the brunt of the raging creek, which surged over the top, demolishing the concrete buttress.

Rose said the cost of repairing CR 129, the other 28 roads and the related infrastructure is expected to reach millions of dollars, with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) pledged to pay 90 percent of the final costs. The state is expected to pick up the remaining 10 percent, he said.

An accurate estimate of the costs is expected as the county continues to work with the federal agency, he said.

Recovery in other areas in the region is ongoing, with the Golden Age Cheese Factory securing a

$750,000 grant from Empire State Development through the county Industrial Development Agency to help them rebuild from the disaster, according to SCIDA Executive Director Jamie Johnson.

Despite vocal lobbying from county officials, emergency and civic leaders, state and federal officials, FEMA denied homeowners any assistance and rejected appeals.

However, human service agencies in Steuben have distributed more than $600,000 of local donated funds to more than 100 households to support county residents in the affected region from the flooding, according to county Public Safety Director Tim Marshall.

Donations to assist residents still struggling with the impact of the flood are still being collected at the Woodhull Community Church.

A spokesman for the church said anyone wishing to donate may send a check made out to “Flood Relief” and sent to the Woodhull Community Church 5187 West Main Street, Woodhull, NY 14898.

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