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Governor Cuomo in the Adirondacks. NCPR file photo
Governor Cuomo in the Adirondacks. NCPR file photo

After Irene, Cuomo calls for revamped state emergency response program

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Governor Andrew Cuomo used his state of the state address yesterday to lay out a broad new vision for improving emergency and flood response planning.

The governor called for dozens of flood-control projects to move forward. The plan drew praise from Adirondack leaders still reeling from tropical storm Irene. But as Brian Mann reports, towns say they also need more direct financial aid.

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Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

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Governor Cuomo poke repeatedly about his experiences last year, leading the state as tropical storms Irene and Lee sent floodwaters smashing through communities from the Adirondacks to the Susquehannah valley.

"I don't want to get into a long debate about global warming, whether it's happening or whether it's not. But I can tell you this. One hundred year floods happen every two years now, so something is going on."

Cuomo argued that emergency communication and planning was inadequate. He said 114 flood control projectds will now be funded and he also called for a new communication network to help first responders.

"We learned the hard way last year that we must anticipate and be prepared for all emergencies. We need a statewide network of emergency responders who are prepared for anything at any time."

That concept drew praise from local leaders including Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward from Willsboro.

"I think he talked about the right things. He talked about having an emergency plan in place."

But some local leaders on the front lines questioned what form that flood and storm relief would take. Jay town supervisor Randy Douglas says hard-hit communities like his need direct financial aid as they continue to rebuild.

"We need it in Essex County and in particular in the town of Jay and the town of Keene, we need grants, not long term loans," Douglas said.

"We're three million dollars in debt at this point, so legitimate flood relief grants would be most helpful."

The town of Jay recently finished repairing a major waterline, that runs under the bed of the Ausable River, using a one million dollar loan from the state.

That project restored water service to roughly 650 people in the towns of Jay and Black Brook who had been using emergency supplies since August.

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