Cuomo challenges communities to rebuild better, stronger

By Kelly McCarthy

July 18, 2013 Updated Jul 19, 2013 at 1:04 AM EDT

Albany, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Gov. Andrew Cuomo is challenging storm-damaged communities to come up with their own plan to rebuild after recent natural disasters.

The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program was established for areas impacted by Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Superstorm Sandy.

For the past two years, natural disasters from extreme weather have left parts of New York state in shambles, the Southern Tier included.

Cuomo decided for those still looking to rebuild, there's no better expert than the community that survived.

"Let's fund the community's vision rather than asking the community to fit into the template that is established up above," Cuomo said.

During Cuomo's announcement of the program, village of Owego Mayor Kevin Millar said he felt both empowered and intimidated.

"It's a lot of work to try and figure out what are the best options for a village like Owego," Millar said, "Which is 80 percent in a 100-year flood plain."

It takes work to rise above the flood-damaged barricades that keep these communities down. They have eight months to submit a plan to rebuild, and the best plan should keep long-term recovery in mind.

"So we're just not going through the same thing year after year after year," said Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D-123rd). "We have a tragedy and then again where are we? This is a great chance to finally get it right."

There's 102 damaged communities on the list, each eligible for at least $3 million, but it's up to them to decide if they're ready to use it.

"Finally people will be asked, what are your ideas?" Lupardo said. "What do you want to see done? We have some money, let's do it. Let's get it right."

Plans submitted before next April will be determined for an award. Cuomo is also giving out bonus awards for communities that have the most team involvement, technology and innovation and regional collaborations among other areas.

"It's going to be up to you," Cuomo said, "And do you have the leadership that creates the energy to keep that community moving forward, and building back better than before."

Broome, Tioga, and Delaware counties have 11 communities that make the list all eligible for at least three million dollars each.

Broome County
Conklin: $3 million
Johnson City: $3 million
Union: $3.6 million
Vestal: $3 million
Binghamton: $3 million

Tioga County
Town of Nichols: $3 million
Village of Nichols: $3 million
Town of Owego: $3 million
Village of Owego: $3 million

Delaware County
Margaretville: $3 million
Sidney: $3 million

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