Three years later, Gowanda reimbursed for flood costs

Feb 8, 2013

FEMA is only now reimbursing for repairs in The Village of Gowanda where Thatcher Brook rose up and flooded the village in August of 2009.

That summer, monsoon-type rains swept across Southern Erie County and Northern Cattaraugus and Chautauqua Counties. The rains were followed by massive flooding across Gowanda, Silver Creek, and the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation.

Seven inches of rain were dumped on Gowanda in less than an hour, followed by flood waters. There was massive destruction requiring more than $1 million in repairs to public facilities.

Contractors needed to be paid, which required the village to borrow $1.3 million, a large sum of money for a village with an annual budget of $2 million.

Thursday, Senator Charles Schumer's office called to say the FEMA money was now there.

"The weather left us in a mess. FEMA worked with us to help make us whole, structurally. Financially, though, it was a long process. We're just happy to say that we have almost made whole completely, financially," said Mayor Heather McKeever, who admits she now pays more attention than before to weather forecasts.

McKeever says borrowing the money brought an interest bill of $200,000 which hasn't yet been paid. FEMA doesn't pay for that loan.