Nearly two years after devastating flooding, Dolgeville again hopeful for buyouts of affected homes

Special Reports

DOLGEVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Nearly two years after Dolgeville was devastated by flooding on Halloween of 2019. The village remembers the strength and support of the community, as those impacted look ahead to potential help on the horizon.

On North Main Street, where over a dozen homes were struck by flooding from East Canada Creek, the silence can be deafening.

“It’s sad to look at what used to be a bunch of homes,” said Sarah Jaquay, who owns one of the houses that was significantly impacted by the storm.

Over a dozen homes are still condemned on the street, which is lined with houses with red x’s. Some properties are so overgrown, those red x’s are hardly visible from the street.

“There’s no hope of coming back or rebuilding. It’s just here,” Jaquay said.

The village was one of several across the Mohawk Valley that experienced major flooding on Halloween two years ago. The storm’s heavy rain and wind, turning the normally calm creek into a raging river.

“Everybody got a knock on the door, saying get out, get out now. I really didn’t know until the sun rose what was going on. I thought maybe we’d have a foot of water. When the sun rose, I saw everything underwater and realized that I was probably never coming back again, and we’ve never come back to live here since,” Jaquay explained.

“It’s a wonderful little village. There are just so many groups that get together and support every effort, especially when people are suffering. They’re there, and they’re there to help,” Dolgeville Mayor Mary Puznowski said.

That willingness to help included a stranger who invited Jaquay and her family into their home, “It was just amazing. Not just people you know, but people you don’t know that just came forward and wanted to help because that’s what you do.”

Days after the floodwaters receded, neighbors and those from outside the Village came together for a community-led cleanup effort.

“It was an amazing effort by everyone. I think that’s one of the beauties of small towns. Everybody knows everybody, so when there is a tragedy, everybody comes together and tries to do what they can,” said Christine Reynolds, chairperson for Dolgeville Forward, a local organization that was part of the effort that day.

But the community’s strength and resilience were put to the test months after the storm passed. In early 2020, the village learned that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had denied individual assistance to flood victims, putting buyouts, which many residents were hoping for, in doubt.

However, well over a year after that FEMA decision, hope is once again on the horizon that the federal government will come through to provide buyouts for those who were impacted by the storm nearly two years ago.

“When this pool of money came through, we jumped on it,” the mayor explained.

The Village getting the opportunity to receive over $3 million in funding to go towards home removals. Puznowski says that funding has already been approved by the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, as the village awaits a decision from FEMA.

“I’m very hopeful. That was a big hurdle getting through Homeland Security, they were the facilitators for this grant, and I think that is very promising that we made it this far,” Puznowski said.

And while the flood victims have been able to find new places to live in the years since, there’s hope that the funding, if fully approved, will offer buyouts and a chance to finally get some closure.

“We could end this chapter in our lives, and just not look back. It’s not a happy time. I mean, over the past two years, we’ve had some good things happen. We have moved on in a sense, but I’d still like to be done with this,” Jaquay explained.

The Mayor says the Village is expecting a decision from FEMA later this year.

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