Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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August 27th, 2009

Elwin Wood is always on flood watch

When a disaster strikes, Sullivan County residents always unite to help those in need. And, legislator Elwin Wood is one individual who lives by that motto.

Several weeks ago Wood invited me on a tour of his district which includes Roscoe and Livingston Manor to discuss his goals to prevent further damage caused by Mother Nature.

Wood, often referred to as the forgotten legislator because his style keeps him out of the limelight, literally spends 24 hours a day thinking about flood damage. When a tragedy occurs he is often one of the first on the scene.

We met on the very day that coincidentally brought this year’s first wave of flooding. Because his district is usually hit the hardest, Wood is all too familiar with the harm rain can bring.

He spoke in vivid detail and deep emotion as he recounted all the tragedies flooding had brought.

Wood recalled the catastrophe along Route 206 emotionally speaking about the unfortunate lives lost. “I knew we had to do something to help these people so we began to raise money and get people to volunteer their services to help those who survived rebuild.”

Through Wood’s efforts over $170,000 in cash was raised, besides donations of everything from furniture to clothing. They came to the aid of 18 families, including constructing two homes.

As we toured the Livingston Manor site that took the life of a young girl, Wood spoke of his desire for the County to acquire the property that once housed a chicken plant to construct a flood plain to combat flooding disasters.

Wood told me, “the urgency to complete a flood mitigation study and accomplish some tangible flood mitigation efforts is as real as it was a year, two years and four years ago. I have spoken with Congressman Hinchey and Assemblywoman Gunther’s offices to request their assistance in expediting these efforts, and have received their full support in protecting our communities with smart, sustainable solutions.”

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther told me, “”I have found the DEC under the leadership of Commissioner Pete Grannis to be more responsive and helpful to our communities,” said Gunther. “Last week the contract was signed by the DEC so the study in Livingston Manor can begin. Having visited the flooded areas immediately after each occurrence, I know how truly devastated these events are for the communities and we must develop solutions which can preserve our communities.”

County Manager David Fanslau noted Sullivan County has been plagued with 13 significant flood events between 1996 and august 2009, five were declared disasters by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Recently, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) commenced a study to develop a long-term solution to the flooding in flood prone areas of the county, predominantly the Beaver Kill and Willowemoc Rivers, and the Cattail Creek and Callicoon Creek.

Fanslau said, “The legislators that represent these areas have been actively involved in responding to flood events and assisting with the immediate needs of those affected. Both Elwin “Woody” Wood and David Sager have been victims of past and recent flood events. The entire membership of the legislature is concerned about the impacts of the flood events, and they have unanimously supported appropriations and other county efforts to address flood mitigation issues.”

The county has appropriated more than $1.2 million to the Sullivan County Soil and Water Conservation District over the past four years to specifically address stream cleanup and maintenance issues.

Fanslau created a standing task force to provide for the county to remain steadfastly focused on flood mitigation, prevention, and response issues.

Public Safety Commissioner Richard Martinkovic said Wood has developed good observation skills to determine if a brook or creek will overflow. “I find him very dedicated. He works well with Fire Departments and EMS plus town officials to make sure people are safe, and he always assists me with many problems that come up during a storm. He gets five stars for his effort and cooperation!”

Roscoe merchant Patricia Yelle of Morning Star Creations also had nothing but praise for Wood, “Without Woody nothing would have gotten done. He jumped in and made things happen.”

Miriam Stone of Annie’s Place agreed, “Woody has been wonderful.”

Thank you Elwin Wood for all you have done, and continue to do, all while keeping politics out of it.

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