Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to swiftly reimburse the Village of Gowanda for a short-term bond that the village utilized to pay for recovery projects after the region's devastating flooding in 2009. The delayed reimbursement has translated into $200,000 in interest fees, adding a significant burden on the village and local taxpayers. In 2009, the Village of Gowanda took out a $5 million bond anticipation note (BAN) to cover the costs of approximately 70 repair projects, and 10 projects are still awaiting FEMA review. Schumer noted that the interest costs will only continue to rise with time, and in a small village like Gowanda these needless FEMA delays have put a serious squeeze on their budget. In addition, if the Village is forced to roll over the BAN again in the coming months, it will cost them an additional $25,000.
"The Village of Gowanda has been hit repeatedly, first by devastating flooding that wreaked havoc on homes, businesses and water systems, and now with avoidable FEMA delays that have cost the community hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest on repair projects. It is simply unacceptable," said Schumer. "After widespread flooding wreaked havoc on Gowanda, the village took out a short-term bond in order to make critical repairs to local infrastructure and water systems. Since that time, all of the repair projects have been completed, and final paperwork for reimbursement has been signed, sealed and delivered to FEMA. However, months have passed with the forms collecting both dust and interest fees, which has cost the village and local taxpayers almost $200,000, with the potential to cost thousands more in the coming months. Gowanda did the responsible thing and now FEMA must step up to the plate and immediately finalize the remaining project reviews so that the village is reimbursed and the community can finally move forward from the flooding that occurred nearly three years ago."
The Village of Gowanda has completed numerous projects since the 2009 floods that devastated the community, for which the Village still awaits reimbursement from FEMA. These projects include repairs to Village Hall, which required rebuilding the majority of its office space, riverbank restoration at Cattaraugus Creek, removal of 7 feet of mud from Point Peter reservoir, and the replacement of Crestwood Drive. The work on these projects, and others, has been completed and temporarily paid for by the Village.
In the summer of 2009, severe summer storms ripped through New York State, and Erie County and the Village of Gowanda experienced widespread destruction and property damage. This was followed by heavy thunderstorms and severe flooding which added to the damage, overturning foundations of homes and businesses, crippling water and wastewater systems, and rendering main thoroughfares impassable. Flooding hit the Village of Gowanda particularly hard, leading to the tragic loss of 2 lives in the small community.