Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

July 1, 2013

City claiming $7.2M in storm-related property losses

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The City of Lockport is claiming public and private property losses of $7.2 million caused by last week's rain storm.

A written estimate was sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on Sunday, to help persuade the governor to declare Niagara County a disaster area due to flash flooding from the June 28 storm, which dumped about 5 inches of rain around Lockport in a few hours. A disaster declaration would open the door to partial federal reimbursement for material losses and municipal spending on storm cleanup and related repairs.

The city's estimate includes $1.2 million in municipal spending and public property losses, and $6 million in residential and commercial property losses due to flooding. Across the city this past Friday night, volunteer and professional firefighters pumped water out of about 600 basements, according to Mayor Michael Tucker. Responders found about six feet of standing water in at least 200 cases, he said.

It seems unlikely that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will agree to reimburse most private property losses — the agency reportedly doesn't regard damage in basements as damage to primary structures — but the city included them anyway, just in case.

"You don't know unless you try," Tucker said. "We're talking to our state and federal officials, trying to make the case. It's all we can do."

Property owners who suffered losses because of the storm are encouraged to file notices of claim with the city, to create a record in the event the losses become FEMA-aidable, he said. For information about filing a notice of claim, call the city clerk's office at 439-6676.

Anyone who suffered property losses should document it immediately for insurance purposes, advised Mary Murphy of Murphy Insurance Co.

"We're telling (customers) to start cleanup as soon as possible, to prevent mold, and as they're doing that, to list and photograph everything that's been damaged, everything they're throwing away," she said.

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