Wawarsing homeowners to get a bailout from the state

Photo: Some of the heavy-duty equipment deployed in the perpetual fight to keep Laura Zakotiria-Smith's Wawarsing neighborhood above water. From a photo album on Zakotiria-Smith's Facebook wall.

This just in: New York State lawmakers have agreed to use a buyout fund for homeowners in flood-prone areas in the Catskills to help a few dozen Wawarsing homeowners, who have been subject to flooding from a leaking New York City water tunnel below their houses for years. From the Times Herald-Record:

Roughly $4 million will be reallocated in this year’s state budget to buy the flood-ravaged homes along Route 209. That money was leftover from a 2008 regional buyout program that targeted homeowners near flood-prone creeks and rivers in the Catskills.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and both houses of the State Legislature agreed during negotiations over the weekend to use the remaining money to help Wawarsing, officials said.

“The blame is surely 100 percent on the city,” [local state senator John] Bonacic said, “but we’re trying to be helpful to people.”

As of this morning, Wawarsing homeowner Laura Zakotiria-Smith wrote us via email, she and her neighbors were still inundated -- more than a week after heavy rains (and, consequently, massive NYC DEP water releases) had water shooting forcefully through cracks in their basements.

Just had to let you know we are still pumping. With the snow falling and the tunnel still leaking we are using 2 electric pumps to pump the water out of the basement. This is the worst case of gross neglegence I have seen in my life! The DEP knows that they are releasing the max 820+ million gallons a day through the tunnel knowing we are affected by this action and still send,  they must, they do not have a choice. What are we supposed to do? My family and I are stressed out more everyday we see the damage to the house the yard and our health.