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Major cleanup underway after Irene "wreaked havoc" in NYS

A garage collapsed onto a car in Troy, N.Y. after Irene's heavy rains lead to a mudslide.
Marie Cusick
A garage collapsed onto a car in Troy, N.Y. after Irene's heavy rains lead to a mudslide.

The Hudson Valley has been greeted with blue skies for much of the week, but the shadow of Irene will likely hang over the region for quite some time.

The electricity at Browns Brewing Company in Troy, N.Y.  was still off on Tuesday, as about 20 workers and a generator helped with cleanup.

The restaurant’s location overlooking the Hudson River has attracted customers for nearly two decades, but yesterday it was shuttered as crews shoveled up piles of mud left behind by floodwaters.

Gregg Stacy is the brewery’s director of marketing. He says the cleanup is going well, and they expect to re-open by Thursday, but the storm will still cost them about $20,000 in lost food and business.

“The next time something happens like this, we now know a little bit more how to prepare,” says Stacy. “The losses could have been a lot worse. We swung into action on Sunday and got everything to higher ground.”

It’s a lesson that many have learned in the Capital Region over the past few days.

Government response

Government officials have been working hard  all week to assess the damage.

According to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office, the storm has destroyed more than 500 homes, thousands of acres of farmland, and over 300,000 New Yorkers are still without power today.

Hundreds of workers from New York’s Department of Transportation have been on the job around the clock since the weekend to repair damaged bridges and roadways.

Bill Reynolds is a spokesman for the agency, and he says Irene’s damage to the Capital Region was like nothing he’s ever seen before.

“[There was] unprecedented flooding in many, many areas, flash flooding. Really, this storm wreaked havoc across this area,” he says.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has spent the past few days touring the state. Yesterday, she was joined by Congressman Paul Tonko (D- 21st) to survey the damage in Troy, where Irene caused a mudslide that crushed several cars and damaged buildings. Heavy rains also lead to flooding to businesses along the Hudson River waterfront.

“Both the congressman and I, and our whole delegation, will work very hard to make sure that New York has the resources she needs to really make things right,” says Gillibrand.

One of those resources is money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The senator is encouraging New Yorkers to document their damage and file claims quickly. 

The state has been declared a disaster area, which allows it to access emergency funding from the federal government to go to the affected counties of Albany, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Schenectady, Schoharie, and Ulster.

The secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate, are traveling with Governor Cuomo to Prattsville, N.Y. this morning to see the devastation there.

WMHT/Capital Region reporter for the Innovation Trail.
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