Roscoe — As two victims of last Tuesday's flood were laid to rest, state and local politicians vowed to find the millions needed to rebuild the devastated town of Colchester.
But will the damage be great enough to qualify for federal aid?
The early estimate to fix roads and bridges in this Delaware County town just north of Roscoe is about $5 million.
The threshold to qualify for FEMA aid is $23 million.
"It will be a tough fight (to get the money)," Sen. Chuck Schumer said in Roscoe yesterday.
He rode three miles down ravaged Route 206 (also County Road 7), where flattened cars lay by the side of the road and homes were ripped off their foundations. Trees as tall as 50 feet smashed into bridges. Large chunks of roads were swallowed by the flood and swamped by rocks and mud.
"People here need help," Schumer said. "FEMA was intended to come to the aid of a disaster just like this one."
According to a preliminary assessment, 37 homes were damaged, with 30 wrecked beyond repair.
Four homes were washed away. Two bridges were destroyed and 34 people had to be evacuated.
State Emergency Management Office inspectors re-assessed the damage yesterday morning, but the exact dollar amount is still unclear.
After that, Gov. Eliot Spitzer flew over the four-mile flood zone. He called the damage "a freak of nature that sprung without fair notice."
He, too, promised to rebuild.
"We will have state response," Spitzer said. "We will have federal resources that I will apply for to FEMA. We are dedicated to rebuilding."
But like Schumer, he was short on specifics.
"These are not rich communities," said Sen. John Bonacic, R-C-Mount Hope, standing next to Spitzer at the news conference. "These are poor communities. Psychologically, they have been battered, and they need our help, and we are going to be there to help them."
As the politicians were promising help, mourners gathered in Roscoe for the 11 a.m. funeral for Fred and Marjorie Shutts, 81 and 79, who died when they and their home were swept away.
They heard two of the Shutts' favorite hymns — hymns that had once comforted the elderly couple: "Old Rugged Cross" for Marjorie and "Wise Old Pilot" for Fred.
Their home is gone, except for a concrete slab filled with muddy water. And in front of that, friends and relatives placed 14 bouquets and crosses made of flowers.
"It was a touching service," funeral director Elton Harris said. "So hard in a small town where everyone knows everyone else."
Two elderly women are still missing: Gertrude Melvin, who was swept away from her daughter's home, and Barbara Clarke Cooper, 74, of Hankins, who was driving on Route 206 when flood waters hit her SUV. The search for their bodies was suspended yesterday.
Reporters Heather Yakin and Steve Israel contributed to this story.