Flood Commission is assisting with grant applications

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By Geoff Samuels
Help was on its way at the special East Branch Flood Commission meeting that took place at Margaretville Central School last Monday.

The purpose of the gathering was twofold: to give area residents and businesses who are less proficient with computers technical help in filing for new post Irene grant money, and to disseminate the latest information on a multitude of flood mitigation projects scheduled to take place in Middletown this summer.

Online assistance
Twelve computers were online and ready to go to work in the MCS library. The staff of computer savvy individuals ready to help included the Executive Director of Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, Carol O’Beirne, Margaretville Mayor Diana Cope, Middletown Supervisor Marge Miller, and Procurement Specialist from the NYS Small Business Development Center, Vanessa Primus.
One of a half-dozen or so people there to get online guidance was Arkville business owner Bruce Beddoe, whose Main Black Bear Seafood Company had been badly damaged in Hurricane Irene. Beddoe, who received assistance filing his online grant application from Mayor Cope, described her efforts as “extremely helpful,” and was surprised at the amount of work she had to do to complete his application.

Helping hands
“I didn’t even have an e-mail account,” said Bedoe, “so she set one up for me on Yahoo.” Nearby on another computer, Carol O’Beirne was hard at work with Lore and Juergen Mahler of Andes helping them fill out their online application.

There were three tables set up in the hallway immediately outside the entrance to the library. Two of the tables had piles of maps on them, and a third had a laptop computer. Each was surrounded by a small group of people.

Flood Commission Board member Pat Davis stood behind one table explaining to his group that the maps they saw before them were in different stages of completion. One group of maps he termed “flood insurance rate maps” or “FIRMs.”

These maps, said Davis, were composed of data collected in the 1990s that had been superimposed over new topographical data and had been officially adopted in 2012.

Process evolving
The other group of maps had distinctive orange colored regions marking areas of what a hundred year flood would cover. Davis termed these maps “working maps,” and explained that they would eventually be adopted as “FIRM” maps themselves in 2014, after they go through about a yearlong period of refinement and public review.

At the second table, Graydon Dutcher, program coordinator for the Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District presided over another set of maps representing upcoming Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) projects slated to be complete by the end of September. These maps contained detailed renderings of where and how stream banks will be altered as well as what areas will undergo floodplain modification. Fleischmanns business owners Jason Wadler and John Blish were among those closely scrutinizing details on the maps representing their town.

Last but not least, the table with the laptop was manned by Phil Eskeli, associate project manager for the Department of Environmental Protection. Eskeli said that anyone who wanted to see a more detailed up-close view of the maps could see it on his computer.