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Governor Cuomo, Sen. Little and Essex County chairman Randy Douglas
Governor Cuomo, Sen. Little and Essex County chairman Randy Douglas

Governor Cuomo declares official disaster in Essex County

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Just after noon on Friday Governor Andrew Cuomo arrived by helicopter in the flood-ravaged community of Moriah, in the Champlain Valley.

After touring two sites where bridges collapsed following torrential rains, the governor declared that Essex County has official "disaster" status.

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One of two collapsed bridges in Moriah

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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"It was breathtakingly bad," Cuomo said of the high water and collapsed roadways.

"First we have to repair the damage and repair the damage as quickly as possible, then we'll do an assesment of total damage."

He said because of this declaration the state will work to restore even those roads and bridges in Essex County that are owned and maintained by local governments.

Asked whether the state's cash-strapped budget would make it difficult to find money to help the North Country, Cuomo said, "We'll do whatever we need to do."

Cuomo said he first noticed that water levels were raising during a personal trip to the Adirondacks last weekend, when he visited the Saranac Lake area.

"We were talking about how high the water was from the rains.  The recent weather pattern aggravated the situation into a disaster."

Cuomo said he planned to review the situation in Saranac Lake before leaving the North Country.  He also offered praise for emergency responders and others who have helped with the flood response.

Meanwhile, New York Transportation commissioner Joan McDonald said flooding on Lake Champlain would not slow or derail construction of the new Crown Point bridge.

"We talked to the contractors and the work is continuing today," McDonald said, standing at the governor's side.

"The staging area for the arch is a little bit underwater but...they're moving full speed ahead."

Conservation commissioner Joe Martens was also at today's event.  He said dam inspectors have found that most structures in the North Country are satisfied that the structures are safe.

Martens again urged hikers and paddlers to stay out of the region this weekend, because of high water, muddy trails and

Essex County chair Randy Douglas, supervisor in the town of Jay, thanked the governor for his support and praised state officials for their responsiveness.

State Senator Betty Little said her office had been in constant contact with local officials and the governor's office throughout the crisis.

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