Into The Breach: Eight Months Into The Flood Recovery, Assemblyman Pete Lopez Continues To Advance Projects And Push For Financial Relief
A Guest Editorial from Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R,C,I – Schoharie)
April 17, 2012
It’s been a long eight months of fighting to help our devastated communities recover from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. In the case of the 127th Assembly District – it’s been a struggle covering impacted areas across seven counties in the Mid-Hudson, Northern Catskills and the Southern Tier – many of the hardest hit areas in the state. Months have been spent in a massive undertaking to rebuild homes, farms and businesses, redevelop streams, ensure that our schools and local governments continue to provide critical services, repair our roads, bridges, public structures and more. Countless hours have been spent helping groups and individuals – laboring to rebuild the fabric of our communities. Homes are still empty, businesses are still dark and farms are still idle. For those of us who have lived through this – it’s been an eternity. Yet, with each accomplishment comes a strengthened belief that we will recover. In this effort, we’ve had many willing partners. State and federal officials, local governments, regional organizations and area volunteers – all engaged with a common purpose. Through this, we’ve maintained our sense of community – reaffirmed our belief in neighbor-helping-neighbor. As your Assemblyman, I’ve been searching endlessly for additional ways to move our communities forward, reaching to find creative solutions that will make our communities whole. At the state level, I continue to work with the governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to make additional progress: partnering with agencies on individual concerns for homeowners, farm families, businesses and others; helping advance the $50 million in the special flood recovery package that we passed last December; cosponsoring legislation with Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo from Broome County and Senator Bonacic of Orange County to cover the local match of FEMA Public Assistance Projects (A.8654-A/S.5888), and joining the governor in announcing this funding, which will provide millions more in needed relief to local governments, schools and taxpayers. While we will respectfully urge the governor to keep flood relief as a legislative and budgetary priority, we must, just as importantly, work with his administration and our federal counterparts to make sure that the promised funds are forthcoming and have the flexibility to get where they need to go. We must make sure the promise of relief really happens, and that our towns and villages – our homes – are restored. I will continue to be the community’s advocate and fight to do everything within my power to ensure our neighbors, who continue to suffer, receive the help they so desperately need. The goal of community rebirth from the devastating floods remains a burning priority. For me, it’s not just a professional obligation – it’s personal. Personal for everyone who has lost all they own – and personal for the families, farms and businesses who still are not sure of their futures. There is so much more to do. We cannot rest until this vital work is done.