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Repair works begins on a sewer line and bridge in Moriah (Photos:  Brian Mann)
Repair works begins on a sewer line and bridge in Moriah (Photos: Brian Mann)

Flood damage estimates rise toward $25 million as rebuilding begins

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Even as some communities were still battling rising waters over the weekend, state and local officials have begun the process of calculating just how much the clean-up and repair effort will cost. Some construction projects are already underway and some business-owners are trying to clean up and get back to work. Brian Mann has our story.

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Salvage efforts over the weekend in Tupper Lake.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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On Friday aftrernoon, work crews from the town of Moriah and the state Transportation Department were already at work trying to repair a bridge that supervisor Tom Scozzafava describes as vital.

"This highway sees between five and six thousand cars a day.  This is the major artery for the town of Moriah," Scozzafava said.

A woman nearly died on this bridge during last week's storm.  Now that the drama has passed, officials are pivoting fast trying to assess the damage and begin clean-up.  Here’s Governor Andrew Cuomo who spoke here on Friday.

"We'll do whatever we need to do.  The goal here is to be of assistance to the county, get the roads up, get the businesses operating.  Whatever it takes, that's what we're going to do."

Randy Douglas is chairman of Essex County.  He says damage estimates are already beginning to come in.

"We're looking at ten towns out of the eighteen got hit by some substnatial damage," he noted.  "Just county owned infrastructure alone, we're looking at probably over $3 million in damage, and that's low-balling it."

In Franklin County, emergency services direcvtor Rick Provost also predicted that damage costs would run into the millions. 

"The preliminary number right now for Franklin County is approximately $9 million in infrastructure damage."

If the total impact reaches $25 million, Governor Cuomo says that could trigger additional Federal assistance.

"Depending on what the total damage is statewide, we may be eligible for Federal assistance," he said.

One question now will be how that aid will help private businesses and families.  Over the weekend, a fire crew from Westville led by Andy Fish was still pumping out a  flower shop along the banks of the Saranac River.

The owner, Roger Steinbrueck, says he hopes to get cleaned up and back in business fast.

"It's really just moppiong up and hoping that the wood f loors that are in there don't warp too much," He said.  "It could just dry up and put some new paint on it."

Others won't be so lucky. Port Henry Mayor Ernest Guerin describe the plight of one family whose home sits on the shore of flood-wracked Lake Champlain.

"The bank [collapsed] about five feet from their house and I'm talking a seventy-five foot drop to the lake.  They moved out of the house.  They had a contractor come in and he wanted $200,000 to fix it.  Without some help, these people are going to be destitute."

Meanwhile, Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire chief Brendan Keough warned that homeowners forced to evacuate won't be allowed back into houses and apartments for some time.

"They shouldn't expect to be able to move in until mid-week or longer.  You've got furnaces under water, fuel tanks underwater.  As the water recedes, we'll be better able to evaluate that."

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