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Governor Cuomo in Prattsville, NY
Governor Cuomo in Prattsville, NY

State, federal leaders promise aid after Catskills visit

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Governor Andrew Cuomo and Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, toured the flood devastated Catskill Mountain community of Prattsville Wednesday, as both promised financial aid and a determined rebuilding effort. Some residents, though, were feeling tired and defeated. Karen DeWitt has this report:

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Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

Tom McGlynn stood on the main street of his flood ravaged town, waiting for Governor Cuomo’s helicopter and a visit from other federal officials. 

The street was bustling with national guard troops distributing water, emergency medics, firetrucks and police. The air was filled with dust from drying mud, fuel leak fumes, and the beginnings of rotting garbage. 

McGlynn said he is still trying to process what happened to him, three days after the waters destroyed his home.

“There’s nothing left of it,” said McGlynn. “The whole first floor is gone, and a two car garage with a room over it, that’s in my neighbors’ yard.”

McGlynn says he and his wife escaped with their lives.

“What I have on me is what I left, McGlynn said. “It’s unbelievable”.

Governor Cuomo brought one of President Obama’s top aids, Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, to Prattsville to see the destruction for herself:

“This is one of the first areas to be declared a Presidential major disaster,” said Napolitano.

Napolitano says that residents can begin applying to FEMA for grants. A FEMA bus was stationed in the center of town, yet FEMA officials say there won’t be enough funds to make residents “whole” again.

Governor Cuomo says money is tight, but the repairs will have to be done, and the funds found. He says he hopes that the state, working with the federal government, will come up with financing for communities that were already hurting from years of economic depression.

“We’re not just going to rebuild, we’re going to rebuild back better than before,” said Cuomo, as many local officials cheered him on. 

But after three disorienting days, residents aren’t so sure, and some are wondering if they still have the heart left to rebuild all that they have lost.

Emily Morse, who also lost everything in the raging flood waters, got a chance to speak with the Governor. Cuomo embraced her as she wept.

Cuomo told her “it will be alright,” Morse said, but she just doesn’t believe it right now.

“How can it be?” Morse said, “I prayed for my life. I thought I was going to die.”

McGlynn, who has raised ten children with Morse in their house that is no longer habitable, says that his wife saw the wreckage and simply said "no".

“She just took a look, turned around and said to me, ‘I’m never coming back here again’,” said McGlynn.

McGlynn, who is in his 70’s and has lived through other floods in the last 30 years in Prattsville, said that, physically, he just doesn't have the energy to rebuild. More importantly, however, McGlynn expressed his uncertainty of whether he would even be able to mentally cope with rebuilding his life again.

“You know we might change our minds,” he said. “But, it’s just heartbreaking.”




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