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Lake Ontario flood victims look for FEMA aid

The riprap rocks that now act as a barrier between Oswego resident Rich Bowman's house and Lake Ontario were paid for with state aid. Many in New York hope to get federal funding to help residents recover from this year's flooding along the shoreline.

Hurricanes in the southern U.S. have captured the nation's attention -- and federal aid. That's a concern in New York, where lawmakers are still seeking federal funds to help residents and businesses after months of flooding along Lake Ontario.

In Oswego, the waves of Lake Ontario crash against large rocks that protect Rich Bowman's house.

The lake is down from record high levels this spring, but it's still 20 inches above normal -- which is why Bowman is thankful for this new barrier in his backyard.

"This is pretty much what’s saving everybody now," Bowman said. 

The rocks were paid for with state aid, but there's more work to be done at his house.

New York approved $15 million in flood aid for residents The author of that legislation, state Sen. Pam Helming, says it's not enough.

And she fears that may go overlooked in Washington, D.C.

"You know, the Houston flooding is a horrific natural disaster, but I want to make sure that our property owners and our business owners along the southern shore of Lake Ontario aren't forgotten," Helming said. "They suffered incredible damage as well."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) does not think the hurricanes will hurt her home state's efforts to get federal aid. She notes that Congress recently approved more funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"We will always make more money available if there are more national disasters," Gillibrand said. "We are not going to pay one national disaster but not the other."

FEMA is currently assessing damage along Lake Ontario. Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said the process is pretty far along. 

"FEMA’s been up here routinely but engaged at our behest, so hopefully that will help get some relief up here on the shorelines," Katko said. "I think we're going to be able to see some assistance up here."

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.
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