Schenectady Demolishes 2 Houses Following Landslide; Cohoes Dealing With Water Main Break

Jan 30, 2018

Two homes in Schenectady, New York have been demolished following a landslide Sunday morning that displaced nearly two dozen residents. Elsewhere in the Capital Region, officials in Cohoes scrambled to fix another water main break.  

Schenectady city officials say the two demolished structures were hanging on a hillside and could have damaged buildings below.

Authorities say three people were rescued from a building during the landslide. Officials say one victim was taken to Albany Medical Center with serious injuries. Authorities say the other two residents were treated for minor injuries.

A group of residents had to be evacuated from the area. The Red Cross assisted with temporary housing as a state of emergency was declared for the city. Nott Terrace was reopened to traffic late Monday.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy did not return a call for comment from WAMC. McCarthy tells NewsChannel 13 he is awaiting reports from geologists and city engineers.

A neighbor, who wants her identity kept secret, tells NewsChannel 13 her home sits on a nearby cliff and worries her house could be next.    “There's always trees falling into my property, falling into their property,” she said.

New York State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, a civil engineer, tells the television station he believes soil that weakened and eroded over time caused the landslide.    “We’re seeing precipitation and then when that ground gets frozen we see a thaw, it adds a tremendous amount of weight to the soil. If it's not stable, you could see more mudslides like this happen, and it's very serious, you know 21 people displaced.”

The freeze/thaw/freeze sequence has also been impacting infrastructure in Cohoes, where a "Water Main Break Notice" affecting Breslin Ave and Northern “Van Schaick” Island Area was issued Monday night. Mayor Shawn Morse:   "It's a vicious cycle and until there's some kind of help and I'm hoping you know the state will help us, all of our communities across the state of New York, we're gonna have to deal with this kind of problem."

The break interrupted water service at numerous locations, including all streets north of Ontario Street between River Street and Continental Avenue. Morse explained city workers located a valve, but due to its age, the valve could not be engaged to stop the water flow. So they had to seek out another valve, then another, until an operable one was found. He notes that crews have had to dig up newly-paved streets after water mains broke beneath - even finding a wooden water conduit in one location.   "And part of the problem that we have with the water breaks, having this many, is that trying to repair them in wintertime, leaves big potholes and crevices. What happens is we're trying to fill it with sand because the stone gets all over the place. We have rain, washes the sand away and any of the type of stone we use. It's a battle that's very difficult to win in this type of weather. In Cohoes, we're pluggin' along, doing the best we can, and you know hopefully the weather will break pretty soon and we'll get the cold patch into these potholes and currently we're looking at a brand new piece of equipment that we wanna purchase so that we can fill these potholes in a better way and do it faster so that they're not, you know, lingering around the city for weeks and weeks. So we can hit the streets and whack out a whole street in one day. So we're looking at every option that's available to us."

Back in Schenectady, the neighbor who spoke to NewsChannel 13 and asked that the station keep her identity confidential, hopes inspectors will examine more homes in the area.  “I definitely want somebody to do that to my home because I am a home owner and I want to make sure that my home is protected.”

Santabarbara suggested now is the time for Schenectady to do an engineering review. According to other neighbors, city inspectors have been evaluating buildings near the landslide site, checking for potential hazards.