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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"The work begins again"
ALBANY, Nov. 5 -- Here on the eve of Election Day, first
and foremost our thoughts and
While our region was largely spared, we know full well – most recently because of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, and the other natural disasters which have struck here over the past year – just how difficult and painstaking the rebuilding process is, and the heavy toll it takes on individual lives and entire communities. It’s an unbelievable burden.
So yes, our thoughts and prayers to all those being hit so hard. But also our gratitude – to President Obama and federal emergency response leaders, to Governor Cuomo and his administration, to all of the local officials on the ground along with, always, firefighters, police and every first responder, National Guard units, work crews and volunteers lending a helping a hand in countless ways across every community.
We here at home understand that it’s only through all of these helping hands that any community can ever begin to recover and keep hope. With that in mind, I’ll take this opportunity to express our collective admiration, gratitude and pride to all of the local volunteers providing Hurricane Sandy emergency assistance, including the Bath Volunteer Fire Department's Swift Water Rescue Team and local American Red Cross volunteers.
One of these local Red Cross volunteers, Dick Walters of Bath, recently said, “We want to go down there because we’re needed. And we want to help.” Another volunteer from Bath, Arlene Haffner, said, “When we go out as a Red Cross group, we end up getting more from the people we serve than we give back to them. It’s such a heartfelt feeling to help people hit by a disaster.”
And Elmira volunteer Pam Ameigh said, simply and powerfully, “I just want to help. We all do.”
Disasters like these always leave those of us far away wondering if there’s any way we can help. Of course, one thing we all can do is to keep in mind the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund (http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations).
This week, Election Day will come and go. Voters locally, statewide and across the nation will head to the polls and cast their ballots – and then it will be time again for public officials everywhere to roll up our sleeves and get back to the business at hand.
Because the challenges ahead – economic and otherwise -- will remain enormous. We know that. And they just became a lot tougher for many of us.
Here in New York, we’re going to have to assess the impact of Hurricane Sandy and respond accordingly. One recent news report recalled that after 9/11, the state estimated it would face more than $5 billion in lower tax revenues for the next two years. Last year, Hurricane Irene, even after federal reimbursements, cost the state and local governments upwards of $200 million.
The early estimates of losses from Hurricane Sandy are far higher. The economic impact on the financial industry, tourism and across the private sector –and the subsequent decline in state and local revenues as a result of these losses – remains impossible to gauge with any accuracy at this early date. Late last week the state comptroller’s office said its “preliminary estimate of economic losses due to the storm ranges from $15 billion to $18 billion.”
What we do know, with certainty, is that it’s one of those unforeseen and unimaginable events – like September 11th and like Hurricane Irene – that immediately redirect the agenda and direction of New York government, sometimes for years to come.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869