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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
prayers continue to go out to our fellow New Yorkers, especially to the families who have lost loved ones, but as well to everyone throughout the downstate region and on Long Island who continue to work to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

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 (

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

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

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
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869