Congressman Paul Tonko hosted a "town hall" style meeting at the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department on Wednesday, Sept. 28, with residents often sharing heated comments. Tonko addressed concerns well after sunset, as seen through a window on one of the department's garage doors.
Photo by John Purcell.
ROTTERDAM JUNCTION A blaze of a different nature heated up the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department on an overcast, drizzly night as flood victims asked government officials heated questions and patience melted away.
The special “town hall” style meeting organized by Congressman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, on Wednesday, Sept. 28, started off with a positive tempo as Tonko commended firefighters and volunteers for working countless hours helping flood victims.
“This fire fighting family has been awesome,” Tonko said as the packed firehouse started clapping and cheering in response. “I was here on a couple locations and saw nothing but everyone working fabulously well together and I know there were many sleepless nights, certainly for victims, but for those who were attending to their needs. It just was a tremendous and profound expression of community service and dedication.”
In recognition of the fire department’s efforts, Tonko gave an American flag flown in Washington, D.C., to commend their efforts. This is the last time the crowd gave a rousing applause.
“I want to hear from you, we want to hear from you,” Tonko said earlier in the meeting.
The crowd wasn’t shy in being heard.
Frustrations flow out
Starting off the question portion, which lasted around an hour and a half, was Claudia Nilsen asking about the cost of demolition. Her mother, Shirley DeLuca, is a 35-year resident of Rotterdam Junction and lived on Main Street before the flooding. Nilsen said she received quotes to demolish her mother’s house ranging from $10,000 to $20,000.
“I understand the funds are very short, but a lot of the people in this town are elderly,” said Nilsen. “When you have to pay up to $20,000 to demo a house that takes a lot out of your FEMA money … of course we are very thankful [for what] we got, but of course it is not enough.”