Sunday, December 21, 2014

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Flood gauges in jeopardy

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Flood gauges in jeopardy
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Residents in flood-prone areas in the Twin Tiers could be losing one of their biggest safety nets. The federal government has cut program funds that aid river gauges. YNN's Katie Husband explains the impact this could have and how local officials are fighting to keep the funding intact.

ELMIRA, N.Y. -- It's a mess nobody in the Twin Tiers wants to relive again. So the Susquehanna River Basin Commission is urging Washington lawmakers to secure $215,000 in funding for existing tools that help to prepare for floods.

"The one thing we cannot afford to have happen is a significant rain event with significant water being poured into the system, into the watershed and all of a sudden, because we don't know the magnitude of it, flooding occurs in areas that we should have evacuated people," said Tom Santulli, Chemung County Executive.

Rain and stream gauges are used by the National Weather Service to give them real-time data that helps them give advanced warnings to communities in flood-prone areas. A number of gauges are in jeopardy of being shut off because the federal government eliminated the specific funding for them.

"As you lose particular gauges, then the accuracy even of the existing ones is impacted then again, the National Weather Service won't have that additional data to make accurate and timely forecasts," said Susan Obliski, Susquehanna River Basin Commission, director of communications.

Local officials haven't waited until the last minute, they've actually been sending letters to their representatives for the past few months to try and secure the funding so the gauges can remain operational after March 1st.

"We've had sit-down meetings with Tom Reed, I've talked to Senator Schumer's office, we've sent letters to Senator Gillibrand's office so and the good news is, they know the problem we don't have to convince them of anything," said Santulli.

Area officials say if the gauges are shut off, you can't just push a button to turn them back on.

"It will be very costly to reactivate them," said Obliski.

Hoping it doesn't come to that because another flood in the Twin Tiers would be far more costly than shutting down any program. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP