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'Mamaroneck's Flood-Prone Areas Need More Than Just Aid'

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- John Castagna lives on the wrong side of the Mamaroneck River, which flooded into his street Thursday, as well as his basement with over one foot of water for the second time in less than two weeks.

"Whether we got the water out or not, the damage was done," said Castagna, who bought a generator after the 2007 Nor'easter flood that left his basement with five feet of water and no electricity to pump it out.

While he was well prepared to pump a foot of water out of his basement after nearly seven inches of rainfall Thursday, like many Hillside Avenue residents, Castagna wants the government to help him better prepare before future storms.

Assemblyman George Latimer’s (D – Rye) state flood mitigation fund calls for $30 million over the next three years to fund various capitol projects that would address that.

The bill -- A.00044 -- was originally proposed after the 2007 Nor'easter flood and is currently gathering signatures. It looks to fund projects that would reduce future flooding in southern Westchester through a state-wide grant program run by the Department of Environmental Conservation, taking some of the burden off local taxpayers, like Castagna.

"Westchester County has previously committed to an annual allocation for flood mitigation, but the state needs to do its share," wrote Latimer in a press release, acknowledging that the money "comes from all of us as taxpayers."

While Castagna said he would love to see new water-retention systems, pipes to carry more water away from homes, dredging narrow streambeds, raising low bridges and other public works projects outlined in Latimer's legislation, he doesn't believe the state or federal government would get behind it.

"Every affected community is working on projects, but no city, town or village alone can undertake the kind of public works projects that are needed," wrote Latimer. "These are the kinds of projects that this state fund must help support."

Local officials, like village manager Richard Slingerland continue to pursue federal aid for several projects comparable to those proposed in Latimer's bill.

"We're constantly making applications to the federal government," Slingerland said. "We're in the process of upgrading our flood emergency plan to an all hazard emergency plan, and that will improve our chances to get federal aid and state aid for emergency repairs and damage prevention as well."

Last year, the village spent between $90,000 and $100,000 on drenching and cleaning the Sheldrake and Mamaroneck rivers, which run through both villages. Over the next three months, they plan to spend $3 million, in cooperation with the Town of Rye, on improving the Jefferson Avenue Bridge, which was one of the areas that had to be closed Thursday due to flooding .

Was your home or business effected by this week's heavy rainfall? Comment below, on Facebook and Twitter.

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