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NY: Orange County Authorities Manage Impacts as Cleanup Continues Following Unprecedented Floods

Published: July 18, 2023
A general view shows a main street after heavy rainfall in Highland Falls, New York, on July 10, 2023. The northeastern United States was inundated July 10, 2023, with heavy rain and flooding across several states a day after storms and flash floods washed out highways and killed one person in New York state. Heavy rains in New York state on July 9, 2023, turned streets into raging waterways, washing out bridges, leaving roads impassable and leading Governor Kathy Hochul to declare states of emergency in two counties. (Image: KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Almost a week after historic flooding ripped through Orange County, New York, the cleanup continues with both residents and political leaders grappling with the aftermath. The floods, which tore apart roads, destroyed bridges, inundated basements and left many homeless, were unprecedented and have created an environment where bad actors can exploit the circumstances to scam residents made vulnerable by the disaster. 

The Orange County government is warning residents to be aware of “professional scammers” using “psychological tricks” to exploit vulnerable people impacted by the floods.

In a June 17 Facebook post the county government wrote, “As people’s emotions run high and flood water recedes, officials warn that professional scammers have methods of taking advantage of homeowners’ vulnerabilities.”

Authorities say that the most common type of scam is impersonation fraud, where a scam artist pretends to be someone, like a government official or first responder, who asks the target to fill out a bogus form in order to gather their personal information. 

The scammers can use the fraudulently gathered information to steal someone’s identity, or conduct unauthorized financial transactions in the target’s name, among other things. 

Authorities say that one psychological trick these bad actors use is creating a sense of urgency, telling the target that they need to disclose their information as quickly as possible in order to access relief. 

“Also common are phishing scams, in which the scam artist will try to steal identity information such as a person’s Social Security number, name, address or birthdate,” county officials warned.

It’s important that residents take steps to confirm that the person they are interacting with is indeed an official.

A home is damaged after heavy rainfall in Cornwall-On-Hudson, New York, on July 10, 2023. (Image: KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Price gouging of essential goods

Authorities are also reminding the public that price gouging during a time of crisis is illegal in New York State.

“New York law prohibits businesses from taking unfair advantage of consumers by selling goods or services that are vital to health, safety, or welfare for an unconscionably excessive price during emergencies,” authorities wrote, adding that, “These goods and services include food, water, gasoline, generators, batteries, flashlights, hotel lodging, and transportation options.”

If residents encounter price gouging they are encouraged to report it to authorities by supplying the specific increased price, dates and places they saw the increased price and to provide copies of sales receipts or photos of the advertised price if possible. 

Residents can report price gouging directly to authorities by filling out an online form or by calling 1-800-771-7755.


Remnants of debris carried by the flood are stuck against a bridge on Main Street as residents check the damage after heavy rains in Highland Falls, New York, July 10, 2023. The northeastern United States was inundated July 10, 2023, with heavy rain and flooding across several states a day after storms and flash floods washed out highways and killed one person in New York state. (Image: KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)


In conversation with Vision Times, New York Senator James Skoufis, said that it’s an “all-hands-on-deck” response to what has been described as a once in a thousand-year event.

“It’s an all-hands-on-deck approach right now. You have some communities that got through the [storm] in Orange County with little to no damage and there are others that were really decimated like Highland Falls, Fort Montgomery, parts of Cornwall and Cornwall-On-Hudson, and, so that’s where much, if not all of the focus has been in those communities that were hit hardest,” he said.

Skoufis lauded the actions of first responders saying they have, and continue to do a “phenomenal job” supporting communities impacted by the floods.

“People from all around Orange County, fire departments, EMS came into the hardest hit communities and have been lending a hand since the storm itself and so, this is one of those moments that tests the resolve of a community and I would like to think that the responders, who have been involved since the very beginning, have passed that test with flying colors,” he said, adding that, “They’ve gone above and beyond their responsibilities.”

“There’s going to be a lot of rebuilding and certainly my office and I, we’re going to be doing everything we possibly can to make sure that both people are taken care of as well as the communities, from a financial standpoint, are taken care of,” he said.

New York State Governor, Kathy Hochul, announced on July 18 that the state will make available $3 million in emergency funding to assist Orange County homeowners recover from the flooding.