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Governor Cuomo Announces New Flood Mitigation Project to Protect Mohawk Valley Residents and Businesses

JUNE 4, 2021 Albany, NY

Builds on Governor's Sustained Commitment to Protect Communities from Future Severe Storms and Flooding

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced construction will begin this month on a $3.9 million flood mitigation project to bolster resilience and improve habitats along the Sauquoit Creek in the Mohawk Valley. The project, which marks a major milestone in New York State's multi-pronged effort to protect public safety and the landscape along the Sauquoit Creek in the Mohawk Valley, will create a new 12-acre floodplain bench -- with plantings, stream bank stabilization, erosion and sediment control facilities -- and install five, 48-inch diameter culverts under the CSX Railroad embankment.

"The hardships New Yorkers have endured from the increase in flood events in recent years cannot be underestimated, and we have made it a top priority to provide better protection for vulnerable regions of our state," Governor Cuomo said. "I have directed state agencies to help the impacted community rebuild back better and stronger that ever before."

The project, located on the west side of Sauquoit Creek north of Main Street, is the product of a collaboration between the state and local governments that, when finished, will yield a more resilient infrastructure to better protect against severe weather events. It will reduce flood water elevations and increase water flow from the Sauquoit Creek to the Mohawk River, mitigating future flood risk. The project is being administered by the Town of Whitestown with funding support from the departments of Transportation, Environmental Conservation, Environmental Facilities Corporation, and the Dormitory Authority of New York State.

This area of Oneida County has experienced five severe and recurring flooding events over the past decade including, most recently, the October 2019 Halloween Storm in which emergency services had to conduct multiple rescues and nearly 200 properties sustained damages. This project complements the previous completion of two floodplain benches in the fall of 2020 in the area of Dunham Manor Park and an agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service in September 2020 to pursue a voluntary buy-out program for flood-impacted homes.

Today's announcement builds on more than $9 million invested by the state in support of several high-priority flood mitigation projects along Sauquoit Creek, including a massive floodplain restoration project recently completed in the Town of Whitestown's Dunham Manor Park. DEC, DOT and OGS partnered closely with Oneida County, Town of Whitestown, and Village of Whitesboro to complete this vital work. This next phase of construction is scheduled to be completed in Fall2022. All of these projects are consistent with specific actions recommended by a state-of-the-art stream restoration/flood mitigation study of Sauquoit Creek undertaken by New York State in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "This project shows that when we all work together and take a comprehensive approach to problem solving, even challenges as daunting as climate change and extreme weather can be addressed. As we work to build more resilient infrastructure, this example of state and local collaboration directly helps residents in the face of future severe events like the Halloween Storm of 2019 and is another example of New York State's commitment to being a national leader in mitigating the harmful impacts of climate change."

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner

Basil Seggos said, "Mohawk Valley residents, like so many other communities across New York, have seen first-hand the devastation wrought by severe storms and flooding. With this new flood mitigation project breaking ground today, New York State continues its sustained commitment to the communities along Sauquoit Creek and helping make this area more resilient and better prepared for extreme weather events."

Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's commitment to making resiliency a key component of infrastructure projects in flood prone regions of the state, the Sauquoit Creek communities of Whitestown and the Village of Whitesboro will be far better protectedagainst seasonal flooding. This project shows what can

be accomplished for the public when State and local governments work collaboratively with the cooperation from a private-sector corporation such as CSX."

Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) President and CEO Joseph Rabitosaid, "The start of this construction project is important because it will help protect Mohawk Valley communities from the damage caused by Sauquoit Creek flooding and shows the positive outcomes that result when State and local governments partner together. We are pleased that the $4.5 million in EFC grants that contribute to the funding of the overall flood mitigation projects will expand the capacity of the creek, reduce repeated localized flooding and ultimately increase the resiliency of the watershed."

Senator Joseph Griffo said, "It is critically important that we continue to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure and protect residents and business owners who have been plagued by flooding along the Sauquoit Creek. This project will provide for better protections if and when severe weather hits and mitigate and reduce the risk of flooding in the future."

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenshon said, "This project has been a work in progress for years and is a crucial part of the overall goal to keep our community members safe. I've long advocated to get these residents much-needed help and necessary resources as they've seen their property destroyed and damaged by severe flooding time and again. Once finished, this project will help protect those who live along the Sauquoit Creek from the effects of devastating floods and ultimately improve their quality of life. I look forward to seeing its completion and working to accomplish additional solutions to meet future needs."

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. said, "Oneida County has continued to make flooding a top priority, providing relief to our devastated residents and businesses, and partnering with impacted municipalities to recover from damages and mitigate future occurrences. We were happy to work with the Town of Whitestown to plan this project and secure the funding necessary to make it happen and we are grateful to the State of New York for its contribution to ensuring the safety of our residents."

Town of Whitestown Supervisor Shaun Kaleta said, "The start of Project 2 of the Sauquoit Creek Channel & Floodplain Restoration Program is another important milestone in overall efforts and the culmination of state, county and local governments working together for a common cause. Despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, flood mitigation in the Town of Whitestown has remained a major priority and the Sauquoit Creek Channel & Floodplain Restoration Program has been able to proceed with little interruption. I am extremely thankful for the continued support from the New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, Dormitory Authority of New York State, United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Oneida County, Village of Whitesboro, Sauquoit Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission and Ramboll, Whitestown's engineering consultant. We still have a lot of work to do, but the start of every project is one step closer to doing everything we can to become more resilient to severe weather events, reduce flooding and minimize future loss."

Village of Whitesboro Mayor Robert Friedlander said, "Mayor Friedlander and the Whitesboro Village Board of Trustees are extremely happy to see the flood mitigation project moving forward. We are very thankful for all agencies involved in coordinating the flood mitigation efforts, including Governor Andrew Cuomo."