The Army National Guard's 152nd engineering company out of …
Updated: Thursday, 13 Aug 2009, 10:57 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 13 Aug 2009, 12:51 PM EDT
GOWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Congressman Brian Higgins is requesting a presidential disaster declaration for the flood-ravaged communities of the southern tier. The National Guard is already on the job, cleaning out flood debris from Gowanda.
The streets of Gowanda belonged to the Guard Thursday, and the residents couldn't be more thankful.
The Guard went to work, clearing out tons of flood ruined property of homeowners. One Guardsman is a native of Gowanda.
Gowanda native Private Brad Gabel said, "It's good to help out. It's awesome. I got a chance to help out my home town, ya know?"
The mud is putting out a terrible odor and presents a real health problem now because some of it contains sewage.
Cattaraugus County Disaster Coordinator Nick Crassi said, "I'm sure it has a lot of bad chemicals, sewage and oils, and other debris that isn't nice for people to be walking around."
Federal and state preliminary assessment teams fanned out across Gowanda.
New York Governor David Paterson, who was there Wednesday, said he is hoping for federal aid, "I briefly alerted the president that we'd be seeking that kind of assistance." (August 12, 2009)
Assistance also will be needed for rebuilding the infrastructure.
Zoar Valley Road cost a million dollars to repair last year and is now a total washout.
Gowanda homeowner Steve Murphy said, "Well we lost a washer and dryer; brand new washer, as a matter of fact."
Steve and Cindy Murphy want their losses to be recorded.
Cindy said, "We haven't seen anybody yet, but we're still waiting our turn."
The people of Gowanda are coping as best they can. They have been through this before, and keeping spirits up is the key.
Steve said, "We thought if we put something on the front lawn like this, maybe people would get a little higher spirit. Ya know, we've all been digging out for the last few days."
Friday, News 4 was told Gowanda residents will meet at 4:00 p.m. to express their needs to the people who can help them.
Flood victims can find help at a Cattaraugus County Family Assistance Center in the Gowanda Elementary School on Aldrich Street.
Jamestown Savings Bank Arena is collecting food, clothing or household items for flood victims. And the Amvets post on Central Avenue in Silver Creek is open from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., offering food, water, clothing and other supplies.
Boil water advisories remain in effect for Gowanda and Forestville. Advisories for Perrysburg, Silver Creek and the Seneca Nation have all been lifted.
If your travels are taking you through the southern tier, be aware. Two travel bans are still in effect in Gowanda and Perrysburg.
Village of Gowanda Trustee Heather McKeever is coordinating the collection and distribution of materials and manpower for those in need in flood damaged Gowanda. Anyone who wants information on how to help, or in need of supplies can call Heather McKeever at 860-1254.
On Friday, August 14th, a truck with much needed supplies is arriving at the Gowanda Assembly of God at 78 Allen Street on the corner of Aldrich Street.
Anyone in need must have proper identification to show they are from an area affected by recent flooding. Distributions will be made from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday, August 14.
Anyone wanting to volunteer their time or make donations to the recovery effort can stop by the Gowanda Assembly of God at 78 Allen Street on the corner of Aldrich Street from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday, August 14th.
The Army National Guard's 152nd engineering company out of Buffalo has begun doing the heavy lifting in Gowanda, clearing flood ravaged streets of damaged and ruined property.
Mud-caked appliances and furniture are being hauled away in huge dumpsters, holding up to 40 cubic yards of debris. There have been reports of rats infiltrating residential areas, a major priority is also rebuilding the washed out road leading to the village reservoir, which is polluted with mud and debris.
Gowanda has opened a family assistance center at the elementary school on Aldrich Street. The village is dispensing food and water and assisting with shelter and counseling as well.
As many as 30 percent of the homes in Gowanda were damaged by raging flood waters and high winds on Sunday.
Assessment teams from FEMA and the Small Business Administration are in Gowanda, which is hoping for federal aid to rebuild the damaged infrastructure and low-interest loans for home owners.
Governor David Paterson, who activated the National Guard, said he talked briefly with President Obama about the need for relief in Erie, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.
The state is wrestling with mounting deficits but have pledged
to do all it can, to help flood victims pull their lives together.