AUSABLE FORKS — Almost two months later, the AuSable Forks community is still recovering from the Ausable River flooding.
At the time, the flooding, which was caused by an ice jam in the river, damaged several properties and displaced many families from their homes.
Of the 36 homes or apartments affected, five were since condemned and left five families in need of a place to stay, Essex County Emergency Services Director Max Thwaitts said.
“Four of them (families) are still displaced. One of them has found alternate housing,” Thwaitts said.
“We’re working very closely with a volunteer organization active in disaster, the Town of Jay Supervisor's Office and the Code Enforcement Office.”
Town of Jay Supervisor Matthew Stanley said his office is holding weekly meetings with United Way, Essex County Emergency Services and charity organizations to continue organizing aid for residents in need.
He said funding has been difficult to receive, because they didn’t meet a lot of the FEMA thresholds, so they’ve been relying on town money and money raised by United Way to help out.
“There's a whole bunch of people working behind the scenes to make sure everybody gets taken care of,” he said.
“We have actually been able to find homes for almost everybody who was displaced, a lot of people who had damage were able to move back in.”
Stanley said after one apartment building was deemed uninhabitable, a couple families decided to relocate from the AuSable Forks area.
“We had one apartment building that is still unable to be inhabited, and we located two of those three families and found them other apartments. We’re getting there slowly but surely,” he said.
“One of the families actually works in Plattsburgh, so they found an apartment there. The other one went to, I want to say Keeseville, and then there is one that is hoping to get back into her apartment in AuSable, because she wants to stay in the AuSable Forks School District.”
Another resident, who had lived through several previous floodings of the Ausable River, is also leaving the area, Stanley said.
“She's an elderly woman looking to move into assisted living. She actually had the chance to get the FEMA buyout before but declined to do it because she didn't want to relocate one of her children,” he said.
“Now that her child has moved on, one of her other children is looking to find her assisted living now that she’s gotten older.”
For the residents able to return to their homes, they were forced to deal with the aftermath left behind by the flood.
One resident had to remove his own truck from the river’s ice after it had been carried away by the flooded waters.
Thankfully the insurance took care of his truck, Stanley said, and that family has since safely moved back into their home.
He said the Town of Jay, as well as other organizations, will use this experience for plans moving forward.
“We’re definitely going to be more proactive in knowing and alerting AuSable Forks when the ice starts moving,” Stanley said.
“The AuSable River Association is still working incredibly hard to get funding to be able to do river restoration, which will help with the ice build up in the river. So hopefully all of these things together will help mitigate any losses in the future.”
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