MALONE — Lower Park Street residents harmed by chronic flooding must wait until the next disaster declaration to see if money is there to move buy out their damaged homes.
They were told by state officials Thursday to start gathering the necessary paperwork to prove their losses so when another presidential declaration is made, their application for help is ready to process.
That news wasn’t exactly what the 20 people who attended a meeting in the Malone Town Office were expecting when they were briefed by Marlene White and Joseph Sikora of the State Office of Emergency Management.
The pair explained that its mitigation-grant program would pay them 75 percent of the pre-flood value of their homes or pay for 75 percent of the cost to relocate a residence.
But the pool of money comes only after a disaster declaration is made by the president and the state opens eligibility for those available funds to those who sustained other losses in prior, unrelated events like localized flooding.
Only municipalities in counties that have a disaster-mitigation plan are eligible for funding when a presidential declaration is made, and Franklin County does have a plan, Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost said.
Homeowners in the 300 block of Lower Park have been dealing with annual winter flooding for years as the Salmon River became shallower and shoals began forming where the flow of water has virtually stopped.
Water that was once several feet deep has been reduced to just a few inches, forcing sheets of thick ice to form on the river — such as the 4,000-foot ice jam that clogged the river in January.
The water in that area has nowhere to go except over backyards and into buildings and, eventually, the street itself, forcing evacuations and road closure.
“This basically killed my mother,” said Martin Lamica of 356 Lower Park, referring to the impact the latest flooding had on Vivian Lamica, who died in March.