Press-Republican

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August 30, 2012

Campground still reeling from Irene

PLATTSBURGH — Just over a year ago, the AuSable River Campsite boasted 130 campsites, a below-ground swimming pool and an elaborate $10,000 playground. 

Today, instead of swimmers, the pool is filled with trash, construction debris and pieces of the adjacent, gutted bathhouse. 

And all that remains of the playground, which once attracted children with its wooden pirate ship and castle playhouse, is two lone tether-ball poles. 

On Aug. 28, 2011, flood waters from Tropical Storm Irene rushed through the campground, located in the Town of AuSable, quickly transforming it from a vacation destination to real-life devastation. 

For owners Bob and Josie Stoeckert, the year since the storm has been a difficult one, as the Ausable River, which reached 15 feet high in some parts of the property, wiped out the water, electrical and septic systems and all but 25 of the campsites. 

Everyone, including guests of the campground, was able to escape without physical harm, but Irene cut income production of the property by 80 percent, and in return, left the Stoeckerts with about $200,000 in damages. 

“We really haven’t spent money on (rebuilding after) Irene because we don’t have it, and we’re devastated,” Mrs. Stoeckert said. 

INELIGIBLE FOR FEMA

Though the Federal Emergency Management Agency has released more than $1.5 million in funds to individuals in Clinton County whose homes were damaged in the natural disaster, the Stoeckerts were ineligible for that assistance because it was their business and not their residence that was affected.   

The couple did receive $10,000 of a $20,000 Business Flood Recovery Grant from Empire State Development but have not utilized it yet. 

In order to obtain the rest of the grant, Mr. Stoeckert said, they must first complete repairs to the property.

Damages to just the bathhouse, which is now covered by the graffiti of vandals, total $50,000. 

The Stoeckerts have received no assistance from the town or Clinton County with cleaning up the wreckage, Mr. Stoeckert said. And although friends and neighbors have offered to help, he is concerned that by doing so, they may be injured by the broken glass and nails that litter the site.

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