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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"The labor of rebuilding"

ALBANY, Sept. 12 -- The aftermaths of Hurricane Irene, likely to be among the top 10
costliest natural disasters in American history, and, now, Tropical Storm Lee remain devastating.

As our nightly newscasts have continued to show us day after day over the past two weeks, the northeastern United States was particularly hard hit – especially many upstate New York communities, including our region. The damage in numerous upstate counties is astonishing. Roads and bridges in rural regions have been entirely washed out. Main Streets were turned into riverbeds. Of course the losses for countless individual homeowners are heartbreaking and simply unimaginable.

And the storms have hit upstate agriculture at the worst possible time with the year’s harvest underway. The terrible losses of livestock, crops, barns, and equipment are unfathomable and, in most instances, unrecoverable. “I’ve been involved in agriculture my entire life,” the state’s agriculture commissioner reflected, “and there have been times when the weather has wreaked havoc on livestock and farms, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything on this scale here in New York.”

So clearly the recovery and the rebuilding effort will demand the attention of federal, state and local leaders for months and months to come. Government plays a vital role in these responses. You can stay updated on the effort through Governor Andrew Cuomo’s website, The damage assessments will be ongoing. The governor has established an Upstate Storm and Flooding Recovery Task Force to coordinate the statewide response. The hard work of putting these communities back together will be intensive.

The bottom line is that we will carry on. That was the message being delivered again late last week.

“All levels of government are working together to help New York recover and we will not stop until the job is done," the governor said. Or as one upstate farmer who suffered enormous crop losses summed it more philosophically to the New York Times: “You put your boots back on and
deal with it.”

What comes to mind most quickly in assessing disasters like these is, again, the overwhelming response from New Yorkers as a whole. One upstate daily newspaper wrote in an editorial, “If any additional proof were needed that it is a new day for New York, it came on a day that, ironically, many New Yorkers would surely have traded for a new day…Communication was
constant. The governor’s office updated the media constantly on road conditions, power outages and the like. Cuomo’s demeanor at press conferences was no-nonsense but reassuring. It all added up to an executive in control – something the state had gone largely without in many ways for at least the past four years.”

Equally impressive was the response from volunteers, work crews, and first responders who once more proved that when disaster strikes, so many stand ready and willing to help. National Guard units from Hornell and Horseheads were mobilized. Local Red Cross volunteers and DOT workers were sent out. The Bath Volunteer Fire Department’s Swift Water Rescue team was
deployed. The list goes on.

The timing of this reminder of the willingness of people to pull together has been equally poignant – arriving as it did as the nation prepared to observe the 10th anniversary of September 11th. To this very day, while 9/11 evokes such a difficult mix of emotions, one of the most powerful feelings of all remains this one: we are Americans and above all else, in the toughest of times, we will stand together in aid, in comfort, and in resolve. This same resolve is being demonstrated again at this very moment in the ongoing storm recovery.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869