Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

July 10, 2013

FEMA looking over private properties today

By Joyce M. Miles joyce.miles@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A state-federal Individual Assessment team will be in the city this morning to look over flood-damaged residential and commercial properties.

Mayor Michael Tucker received notice of the team’s arrival Tuesday from the state Office of Emergency Management.

The city is providing the assessment team with a list of properties to inspect, addresses having been culled from notices of claim that property owners were encouraged to file with the city clerk’s office.

Presently the list includes about 25 homes and a half-dozen or so flood-damaged commercial and non-profit properties including the American Legion hall, the YMCA and the YWCA, Tucker said.

The Individual Assessment team is coming in at the city’s request to determine whether private properties qualify for disaster aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Until recently such aid went to municipalities only, to cover repair and replacement costs of damaged public property. Last week, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., pledged to press F.E.M.A. to be “flexible” in its interpretation of who/what property damages qualify.

Across New York state, 15 counties including Niagara were declared a disaster area by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week after heavy rains and flooding hit the Mohawk Valley, the North Country, the Southern Tier and the City of Lockport.

Federal aid for private property owners is dependent upon a “major disaster” declaration by F.E.M.A.


Although the city-wide “amnesty” on the normal rules of refuse disposal is in effect until Friday, several property owners reported receiving violation warning notices this past Monday.

The notices were intended to alert homeowners to the ongoing ban on trashing electronic goods such as TVs and computers, Chief Building Inspector Jason Dool said.

There’s a flaw in the notices, however: They don’t specifically indicate electronic goods at the curb are a problem.

The refuse amnesty was called in response to widespread property damage that occurred when flash flooding hit citywide on June 28. Emergency responders pumped out an estimated 600 basements after 5 inches of rain fell in a few hours and overwhelmed the sanitary-stormwater sewer system.

Under the amnesty, there are no limits on how much refuse, including white goods, can be placed at the curb for pickup by Modern Disposal. Also, the rule directing set-out no more than 24 hours ahead of scheduled pickup is suspended.

Not suspended is the ban on putting electronic goods out to the curb, because Modern cannot take and landfill them.

High Street resident Jason Berent didn’t know that and put a water-damaged TV out to the curb with other items. On Monday — after a scavenger broke apart the TV, took its desired parts and dumped the remains in his yard, Berent said — he received a written warning from city code enforcement officer Bob Turner.

The pre-printed notice indicated Berent had violated four provisions of the local refuse-and-recycling law: bulk waste was out on the wrong day, loose refuse was on the sidewalk, extra bulk items didn’t bear the required OK-to-trash sticker; and refuse was placed at the curb too early.

The notice instructed Berent to “correct” the violations within 24 hours. Berent said he did so, by pulling as much junk back toward his house as he could.

Berent should not have received that notice, at least not without notation that the real issue was the TV, Mayor Tucker said Tuesday.

For the rest of the week, he said, Turner will be directed to refrain from handing out refuse warning notices unless they’re about un-disposable electronic goods — in which case Turner is to write that on the notice.

Residents can drop off unwanted electronic goods for recycling at Harrison Place, South Street entrance, between 10 a.m. and noon every first and third Saturday of the month.


American Red Cross delivered 100 basement “clean up kits” to City Hall on Tuesday, for homeowners who are still coping with the aftermath of flash flooding.

Each kit contains a mop head, a broom head, a squeegee head, a handle that attaches to each head, a bucket, disinfectant cleaning products and a pair of gloves.

“If people still have the need, they’re welcome to come down and pick one up,” Tucker said.

The kits are free.

Red Cross will take back unclaimed kits in a few weeks.