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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Majority of Homes Damaged by Flood

About three-quarters of the 1,600 homes in the Village of Owego were damaged by last week's flood, Mayor Ed Arrington said Tuesday.

Arrington estimated the value of the damage to the village, where residents continue to salvage and discard waterlogged possessions, at between $6 million and $12 million.

"Their spirits are remarkable," Arrington said of village residents. "Nobody's jumping up and down, being disrespectful. ... They've been through it before."

Now, the village needs the rain to stay away, and also needs money to pay for unexpected expenses due to the flood, he said.

"Our budget is so tight that we're going to struggle to get through this year if we don't get reimbursement," he said.

The village will be charged about $300,000 for curbside refuse collection as residents and businesses discard destroyed furniture, books, electronics and other items, he said.

And a document recovery company is trying to salvage the village's paper records damaged by the flood, he said.

It could be a few more weeks before life is back to normal in the village, Arrington said.

In Owego, where some 400 homes were damaged in the flood, debris pickup has begun, town Supervisor Donald Castellucci Jr. said.

Most town roads are passable, but drivers should be cautious, especially on rural roads, he said.

"There's a lot of damage out there," Castellucci said, noting that the integrity of the roads could change daily because of runoff.

On Wicks Road in the town, Jim and Lisa Renda spent their third day piling their destroyed possessions on their lawn.

"Take me to the river!" one of them had spray-painted on the house, to which they don't plan to return.

The couple lived in the home for six years and renovated it after the 2006 flood. They had also started putting an addition on the house before the most recent flood came.

"We're going to look to take our equity and relocate," Jim Renda said. "Hopefully, still in Tioga County ... because we have an 11-year-old daughter that we don't want to move schools."

The Rendas also have relatives living in the county, all of whom were affected by the flood.

"My sister's house is gone, my brother's house is gone and my parents' house is in limbo," he said.

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