Rural communities struggling to recover after the storm


Utica, N.Y.—Small rural towns, like the Town of Morris, struggle to recover after severe storms. Lack of manpower, equipment and money all contribute.

In less than an hour, Saturday’s storm wreaked havoc on houses, roads and crops throughout Otsego County. The Towns of Morris, Butternuts and Pittsfield bore the brunt of the damage. 

“There’s a lot of stuff,” Michael Newell Mayor of Morris said. “We haven’t even gotten to the bottom of it how much it is yet even financially I don’t know, so we’re working on it.”

Otsego County Chairman David Bliss declared a State of Emergency in those towns on Sunday after accessing the damage. In the Town of Morris a road on Route 51 was completely destroyed, another road a short distance away was entirely swept away, leaving one guard rail barely hanging. Businesses in town were forced to close Monday because of flooding. Damage control will take time and more importantly money, something that these small towns don’t have a lot to spend.

“The budgets for these highway departments this far exceeds the damage I saw today far exceeds their total budget for a year in what they would be able to do,” New York State Senator Peter Oberacker explained. “So they can’t afford it they can’t absorb it so we from the state really need to press forward and do what we can to relieve that.”

Morris is looking at $750,000 dollars of damage so far, but that number is expected to rise in the upcoming days

“Relative to New York State infrastructure, for New York State DOT was $1.9 million those are again preliminary numbers,” Victor Jones, Acting Emergency Services Coordinator for Otsego County.

These small towns are still waiting for aid to pay for damage that occurred from the Oct 2019 flood, senator Oberacker says he will be drafting a letter to Governor Cuomo in hopes of speeding up the process this time around.

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