Rep. Scott Garrett Makes New Milford Chamber of Commerce First Stop on 5th District Business Tour
New Milford Chamber of Commerce meets with Rep. Garrett at Garden Cafe this morning
It seemed appropriate that on his 5th District Business Tour, Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) came to New Milford to talk to the Chamber of Commerce about the effects of Hurricane Irene on local businesses on a morning with driving rains.
Delayed by rain and traffic on Rt. 208, Garrett was on a listening tour as Mayor Ann Subrizi, Council President Howard Berner, Councilmen Colucci and Rebsch, and Chamber of Commerce members Michael LaGratta and Lou Denis shared the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irene on area residents and businesses.
Garrett listened intently as Mayor Subrizi requested his help in mandating that United Water lower the reservoir level prior to any anticipated storm to prevent the severity of flooding that New Milford residents have been experiencing.
Columbia Avenue residents, Ulises and Arlene Cabrera, who were breakfasting at Garden Cafe when Garrett arrived, explained to Garrett just how much damage the floods did to their house.
Despite having flood insurance and filling out FEMA applications, adjusters are so overwhelmed with claims that there is a long waiting period before any funds are received. The Cabrera's put money out of pocket to begin immediate repairs on their home, but Mayor Subrizi reported that there are people who are not able to do this and must rely on insurance and/or FEMA funds before they can begin any repair work.
Echoing Mayor Subrizi, Cabrera said that if United Water did a better job managing water levels there would not be as many flooding issues. Cabrera also reported that when he called United Water he was reminded by one of their representatives that he bought in a known flood area.
Both LaGratta and Denis spoke to Garrett about the effects of Irene on area businesses. Even if a particular business did not experience any flooding, the town experienced power outages due to PSE&G's substation being flooded causing business to close.
Garrett assured everyone present that individual FEMA money is not at risk. However, there is currently a debate in the federal government about the availability of FEMA money to municipalities.