LOCKPORT – Mayor Michael W. Tucker called Tuesday for Lockport residents whose properties incurred damage in Friday’s flash flood to file notices of claim against the city.
Tucker said the primary purpose of that procedure is to compile a list of damaged properties to give to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose damage-assessment team is expected in Lockport next week.
A notice of claim is a mandatory preliminary to a lawsuit against the city and is reviewed by the city’s liability insurance company. Tucker isn’t asking people to sue, nor is he promising them payments from the insurer, or from FEMA.
“It’s highly unlikely our insurance company will pay any of those claims,” Tucker said at Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.
But FEMA needs a list of properties to consider for reimbursement of damages. “It’s a burdensome thing for the Clerk’s Office, but I don’t know any other way to get a list,” Tucker said.
The claim forms may be obtained at City Hall, or by phone at 439-6676 to request one to be emailed.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., on a visit here Tuesday, said FEMA is more flexible than it has been in the past about reimbursements for residential damage. Most of the loss for Lockport residents in the flood was in basements, which FEMA generally doesn’t cover.
“We’re doing our best to get the residents reimbursed,” Tucker said.
Basements were pumped out at about 600 homes, with about one-third of those having water at least 6 feet deep, Tucker said.
Friday, 16 Niagara County volunteer fire companies brought trucks and personnel to Lockport to help the city Fire Department with that effort.
Meanwhile, as piles of ruined belongings continue to be seen in Lockport neighborhoods, Tucker declared war on garbage pickers. He said they’re making the mess worse by going through piles and even opening bags to find something they want. Some pickers have been throwing trash all over lawns in the process.
“If anybody goes through the garbage in the City of Lockport, they’re going to be arrested,” Tucker said. That provision already exists in the City Code, but it usually is not enforced.
“They’re causing chaos in front of people’s homes,” Tucker told the Council, adding that homeowners “have enough to worry about.”
To clear the mess away, the city’s normal garbage restrictions on large items and extra bags have been lifted until July 12, and Modern Disposal is putting on extra trucks to go through the city daily, in addition to the regularly scheduled pickups.
Normally, the city limits residents to one large item per month unless they want to pay for extra tags, and it collects only what is placed in the city’s wheeled garbage totes. “If we kept that, people would be putting stuff out for two years,” the mayor said.
The two weeks of extra pickups will cost the city $75,000 to $100,000, Tucker estimated.