SCHUMER URGES FEDS TO SWIFTLY APPROVE VILLAGE OF GOWANDA’S APPLICATION FOR FUNDING FOR REPAIRS TO RESERVOIR DAMAGED BY MASSIVE 2014 FLOODING – PROJECT WOULD REDUCE FUTURE FLOOD DAMAGE & HELP AVOID COSTLY BATTLE AGAINST FLOOD WATERS YEAR AFTER YEAR
Village Has Been Unable To Use Reservoir Since 2014 Disaster & Is Relying On A Well To Provide Water For Local Residents At A Major Cost To The Village
Schumer: $1.5 Million Project Would Not Only Fix Damaged Reservoir, It Would Also Build it Back Stronger To Prevent Future Flooding
Schumer To FEMA: Swiftly Review and Approve Gowanda’s Proposal to Get Reservoir Back Up and Running, Implement Damage-Preventing Flood Mitigation
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today to swiftly review and approve the village of Gowanda’s application for funding to repair the Point Peter Reservoir System, which was damaged by the May 2014 flooding. The severe storms in Western New York brought severe rain and flooding to Cattaraugus County, including the Village of Gowanda. Roads were washed out, homes were flooded, and public buildings were severely damaged. Schumer will say the Point Peter Reservoir, which serves as the village’s main water reservoir, has remained unusable while village officials had been working with engineers to identify the problems and create a plan to get the reservoir back up and running, and the village recently submitted that plan and request for funding to FEMA for approval. Because the reservoir has not been available for more than a year, the village has remained under a state of emergency. During that time, the village has received its drinking water from a single backup well, which Schumer will say, is not a sustainable option.
“The Village of Gowanda has worked hard to study and plan a way forward to both repair their damaged reservoir, but also to prevent future damage. When flood waters overtook roads, homes and destroyed the Point Peter Reservoir it was a huge blow the community. Before the storm – the reservoir provided clean drinking water to all the residents in the Village of Gowanda,” said Senator Schumer. "But, today the reservoir is still completely out of operation. That means the village has been depending on a backup well, which isn't a sustainable solution. That is why I am urging FEMA to swiftly approve the Village of Gowanda's application for funding to repair the damage. Living in a state of emergency for over a year is not something any town, village or county in America should have to deal with, so I am putting FEMA on notice that this project is a priority for Gowanda and a priority for me.”
The May 2014 flood came as the Village of Gowanda was still rebuilding from an even worse flood in 2009. When the 2014 floods overtook the area again, it made the recovery process even more difficult for local officials because previous damages were exacerbated. Senator Schumer's involvement came on the early onset and he continues to keep FEMA’s feet to the fire by helping to address the Cattaraugus Creek flooding in 2009, and the most recent flood damages from 2014. Senator Schumer has said he will fight to ensure that the Village of Gowanda has access to vital FEMA funding to make repairs and prevent further damage from future disasters.
The Point Peter Reservoir System requires the following repairs and replacements:
· Catwalk bridge over atop the dam was completely destroyed and needs to be entirely replaced,
· South wall was washed out in some areas and needs to be replaced,
· Replacement of ladder access to the valves at the Gate House,
· Construct the access road that was washed out,
· Stabilize the soil to prevent future washouts,
· Replace the stop logs for temporary damming of the springs, and
· Reinforce the banks for the reservoir.
Senator Schumer also said the area surrounding the reservoir requires a significant amount of cleanup and removal of debris. Currently, there are dead trees, trash, and sediment, all of which block and disrupt the path of water in the reservoir rendering it unusable and creating further damage.
A copy of Senator Schumer’s initial letter to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate appears below:
Dear Administrator Fugate:
I write to urge the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to expeditiously review and approve the Village of Gowanda’s application for funding to repair the Point Peter Reservoir System, which was damaged by the May 2014 flooding.
In May 2014, severe storms in Western New York brought heavy rain and flooding to Cattaraugus County, including the Village of Gowanda. In Gowanda and the surrounding towns, roads were washed out and closed, homes and yards were flooded, and other critical pieces of public infrastructure were seriously damaged. The heavy rains caused the Point Peter Brook and Allen Spring to overflow, causing severe damage to the Point Peter Reservoir System.
The Point Peter Reservoir, which serves as the village’s main water reservoir, has remained out of operation while village officials have worked with engineers to identify the scope of work and necessary repairs. Because the reservoir has remained inoperable for more than a year, the village has also remained under a state of emergency. During that time, the village has gotten its water from a single backup well, which is not a sustainable option. It is in the residents’ best interest that this project move forward as soon as possible so that the village can once again utilize the Point Peter Reservoir.
I understand that Gowanda recently submitted to FEMA a request for funding to repair the Peter Point Reservoir System, which also included a hazard mitigation proposal to help prevent damages from future flooding events. As you know, the Point Peter Reservoir was also severely damaged by the summer 2009 flooding, and I commend the village for their foresight in incorporating hazard mitigation plans in their proposal. Because of the time-sensitive need to get this important piece of infrastructure back up and running, I urge you to review and approve the village’s request for funding as soon as possible.
Thank you for your attention to this critical project. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator