North Tonawanda Common Council discusses flood aid for city, but unlikely to reach threshold for disaster aid - The Buffalo News
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North Tonawanda Common Council discusses flood aid for city, but unlikely to reach threshold for disaster aid

NORTH TONAWANDA – Members of the North Tonawanda Common Council Tuesday learned that even though damage from the July 19 storm was significant, the city may not qualify for disaster aid.

Drake Drive resident Judy Smolka addressed the Council, noting that backed-up sewage filled her basement and the basements of some of her neighbors. She said her cleanup alone cost $3,000, and she was forced to replace her washing machine.

Smolka said after the meeting, “We are slowly trying to pull things back together.”

“Lockport and Niagara Falls got help. I was hoping something could be done for us and my neighbors on Drake Drive,” she said.

Robert W. Welch, executive assistant to the mayor, said Mayor Robert G. Ortt, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, had written a letter to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo but has yet to receive a response.

“We expect the process to take a month or more. It took about that long for Lockport to get a result back when they had their storm on June 28 or 29,” said Welch.

He said Lockport, Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda and other communities hammered by the July 19 storm have not received any money. The state set up trailers to assess damages and meet with residents.

“They are crunching the numbers now to see if there will be any assistance from the state,” Welch said. “We are not guaranteed anything.”

Common Council President Richard Andres said there is a threshold for aid.

“Unfortunately we don’t think there was the huge devastation that came through Lockport in June,” said Welch.

“Or fortunately,” added Andres.

In another matter, Sara Hood, a longtime alderwoman, asked the community to participate in the Aug. 31 blood drive, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the Mid-City Plaza Red Cross donation center, next to Tops Market on Meadow Drive. Refreshments, door prizes and T-shirts will be available.

Hood said she became a spokesperson for the drive because she was diagnosed with a bone marrow disorder in 2009 and in 2012 was found to have a rare blood condition.

“In the past I have donated 17 gallons of blood, always feeling I had the responsibility to give to others what is needed. Now I am the recipient. Did I ever think I would have a rare blood disease that required blood infusions?” said Hood. “The future is unknown so we must be ready.”

The board also gave permission to block off Rumbold Avenue, from Division to Mead streets, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a block party and pig roast, which will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Sept. 22 in the Hideaway Grill, 399 Division St.

The event benefits Owen’s Toy Box, a charity in the hematology/oncology unit of Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. The organization provides care packages filled with toys and games for children in the hospital. The charity is named in memory of Owen Pieber, who died on Oct. 8, 2008, at age 4, after suffering from a rare brain and spine cancer.

The pig roast is open to the community and will include raffles, a dunk tank, T-shirts, KanJam and bean bag tournaments. More information about donations is at


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