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Gov. Hochul Visits Flood Victims In Westchester; Search Underway For Missing Iona College Professor Frances Bailie

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is reassuring storm victims in Westchester County that every effort will be taken to help them recover.

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, the governor and Sen. Chuck Schumer showed up with high praise for the volunteer first responders who worked through the night in terrible conditions to rescue hundreds of people in flooded out low lying areas of the Village of Mamaroneck.

Hochul also came with what she said was good news: A signed emergency declaration, and a firm commitment from the Biden administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide resources to help Westchester and New York City recover.

"There's a lot of pain in our state right now, and our hearts go out to all of them," Hochul said Friday. "We stand here committed to do whatever we can to help their families, help their neighborhoods and, as the senator said, to build the resiliency wherever we can to fight back Mother Nature."

The governor offered sympathy and a helping hand for flood victims. Dozens of small, family-owned businesses suffered devastating damage.

The damage at Bilotta Kitchen Design is epic, pegged at $1.5 million. Almost two dozen high-end appliances were destroyed and the showroom was under four feet of water after the Mamaroneck River once again overflowed and filled the local streets.

"I said to myself, alright, how the hell are we gonna go through this again?" James Bilotta said.

Bilotta is determined to rebuild, but he's frustrated with a lack of promised progress on flood mitigation projects.

He confronted Schumer when he and Hochul toured damage on Friday.

"I wasn't so nice unfortunately. I kinda lost my cool," Bilotta said.


CBS2 covered Schumer's visit after Mamaroneck flooded in 2007. Back then, one victim let loose with a flood of angry words.

"And we need the politicians to get up and stop talking and do something," Darlene Green said at the time.

Fourteen years later, Schumer blamed the Trump administration for sidelining funding in 2020. He promised to fix it.

"We should've had this three, four years ago, and a mendacious act by a president who didn't care stopped it. It's not gonna happen again," Schumer said.

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Business owner Chris Betrescu hopes this time Schumer can get it done. His auto customization business got slammed, and he's not sure how he'll recover.

"Just completely lost. I see 15 years of just hard work and just saving and building little by little by little just completely gone," Betrescu said.

Mamaroneck Mayor Tom Murphy says the feds must fund flood mitigation projects, such as deepening the Mamaroneck River, for the sake of first responders who risk their lives.

"We owe it to them to not put them in harm's way constantly by having this kind of flooding," he said.

An epic cleanup was also underway in Rye Brook.

Homeowner Hans Rohlf has a massive hole in his garage and awful memories of the rushing water that put it there.

"I just was in shock. I just ran kinda for my life because it was, the water was just tremendous, the force of it, and I just made sure my family got upstairs in time," he said.

The Blind Brook behind his home swelled with rain and runoff, doing epic damage on Brook Lane. Several cars belonging to Rohlf family members washed down the street.

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The Rohlfs expect their home will be condemned.

"I need a whole new house," Rohlf said.

They're salvaging what they can and trying to move past the nightmare.

Homeowners say the flooding was unprecedented and unexpected.

The DeLucas' home of four months filled with flood water.

"It was insane. It was chaotic. The kids are screaming upstairs, 'Are we gonna die?' I mean, the water's rushing. It was just awful, an experience I just don't wanna ever go through again," Dani DeLuca said

Iona College Frances Bailie killed by Ida
Search underway for body of Iona College professor Frances Bailie, believed dead after Ida hit Westchester County. (Photo via CBS2)

Meanwhile, heartbreaking search is being conducted in Harrison.

Authorities are trying to locate Frances Bailie. She was in a car with her husband when they were caught in flooding from the Blind Brook not far from their home.

"The car went up on the embankment, and I believe they couldn't drive. So they got out of the car, and as soon as they got out, the current took them, and there was nothing they could do," Harrison resident Dan Forrester said.

Bailie chairs the computer science department at Iona College in New Rochelle, where her husband also works as a computer science instructor. His body was discovered Thursday, but hers has not been found.

Watch Tony Aiello's report -- 

Police searched the pool on the Forresters' property. The family experienced significant flooding, but is keeping things in perspective.

"We'll be able to fix it and move on. It's the poor families that don't have that luxury," said Lisa Forrester.

The college shared a quote from one alumnus, who said, "Her role as a teacher transcended the curriculum. She genuinely wanted to teach us as people, not just as students."

Bailie is also being remembered as a pioneer in the field of computer science, getting into it at a time when not many women chose that field.

At the end of the day, it looks like the death toll in Westchester could reach four devastating losses from Ida.

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