Couple, denied state help after flooding, worries about water supply

Shore well help

TOWN OF LYME, N.Y. (WWNY) - A town of Lyme couple is scrambling to protect their water supply left vulnerable by record flooding in 2019. They say they tried to get state funding, but an error on the application has left them high and dry.

Tina and Robert Hunt say an unchecked box could be all that has separated them from state money to protect their shore well. Their big concern: being without water after winter arrives.

“Our shore well used to be underground and now it is above ground,” said Tina.

The before and after paints a picture of damage Tina says 2019 flooding on Lake Ontario caused.

Tina and her husband live on Flanders Road year-round and rely on the well.

“That’s our source of water,” she said.

And while the well is working now, Tina says with it exposed, and colder weather coming, the well could be in jeopardy.

“Winter is coming and we’re afraid it’s going to freeze,” she said.

She says they applied for state funding through Neighbors of Watertown to protect the well and waited months to receive a decision.

“We will not be moving your application forward for consideration,” said Tina.

What went wrong? Tina believes it was a simple mistake.

“I forgot to check that box,” she said.

That box is “water and/or sewer/septic system” and is meant to describe damage the property sustained.

Neighbors of Watertown Executive Director Reginald Schweitzer says the Hunts also didn’t mention the shore well in the property damage description.

Those two factors could be have cost them.

“It seems as though this could have been reviewed and there could have been a strong likelihood of them receiving funding if that damage had been indicated initially,” he said.

The Hunts say they put an appeal in to the state after their first application was denied. But, according to Tina, that appeal was denied too.

“Why did I do an appeal if they’re not going to look at it,” she said.

In a letter, the state’s Department of Homes and Community Renewal says it denied the appeal based on the Hunts' original application.

Tina says it could cost anywhere from $23,000 to $30,000 to protect the well - money she says they don’t have.

And now, she says it feels like they’re out of options.

“I just wish we could get some help and I don’t know where else to go. We’re kind of in limbo right now,” she said.

In a statement, The New York Department of Home and Community Renewal said:

“The Lake Ontario Flood Relief program was designed to assist homeowners whose properties suffered direct physical flood damage in order to ensure a safe and habitable home. Shoreline and other property damage was ineligible under the program. In order to ensure fairness and consistency in the program, all applications were considered using the same eligibility criteria.”

The state said the Hunts indicated in two places on their application that they had shoreline damage, describing losing a portion of their yard, and foundation/steps to water front dock.

They did not indicate or describe any damage to their home, according to HCR.

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