Storms, Flooding Wreaking Havoc

Jul 1, 2013

Credit Steve Hardy/Flickr

It has been raining just about everywhere across the Capital Region, Catskills and Hudson and Mohawk Valleys, creating dangerous and even deadly conditions in some places.

The rain and the floods that came with it resulted in states of emergency being declared in several counties including Montgomery and Schoharie. 

A flash flood watch has been issued for the Capital District through Tuesday morning. Monday morning, Ulster and Greene Counties were placed on the National Weather Service's flash flood warning list. Shandaken Town Supervisor Rob Stanley says his community is prepared.

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was scheduled to visit the storm-ravaged Mohawk Valley on a driving tour of damaged areas in Montgomery and Herkimer Counties, making stops at the Emergency Command Center in Fort Plain and meeting with first responders and local Montgomery County officials in Mohawk.

The Reformed Church of Fort Plain is the site of a volunteer coordination command center.  Health officials been offering Tdap vaccine to adults affected by the flood, and they've been handing out N95 respirators for people to use when cleaning up.

More than 200 households were caught up in flash flooding Friday in Oneida County.  There was flooding over the weekend in Castleton in eastern Rensselaer County, and authorities were still trying to find an elderly woman believed to have been swept away in Fort Plain. Meanwhile, Middleburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile says that his community is still recovering from previous bouts with mother nature.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers to take extreme caution as heavy rains are expected in parts of New York State, including areas in the Mohawk Valley and North Country already devastated from flooding.

NWS Albany has issued a Flash Flood Watch from 8 a.m. this morning to 8 p.m. on July 2nd for Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Ulster, Warren, and Washington Counties. Showers and thunderstorms are expected today and rain may be heavy at times. Rainfall amounts are expected to be between 1 and 3 inches. There may be isolated rainfall amounts up to 5 inches possible.

"With heavy rain and possible flash flooding expected in parts of the state, I urge all New Yorkers to take extreme caution, including closely monitoring local radio and television for weather alerts and listening to the advice of local officials," Governor Cuomo said. "Many communities have already been hit hard by flooding, and the state is deploying every resource available to help affected areas and residents."

The Governor urged New Yorkers to take the following steps to stay safe:

  • · Monitor the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Weather Radio or your local radio and TV station broadcasts for information.
    · If local officials advise evacuation, do so promptly.
    · Bring outside possessions inside the house or tie them down securely. This includes lawn furniture, garbage cans, and other movable objects.
    · If there is time, move essential items and furniture to upper floors in the house. Disconnect electrical appliances that cannot be moved. DO NOT touch them if you are wet or standing in water.
    · If you are told to shut off water, gas, or electrical services before leaving, do so.
    · Secure your home: lock all doors and windows.


  • · Make sure you have enough fuel for your car.
    · Follow recommended routes. DO NOT sightsee.
    · As you travel, monitor NOAA Weather Radio and local radio broadcasts for the latest information.
    · Watch for washed-out roads, earth-slides, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and falling or fallen objects.
    · Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges, and low areas.
    · DO NOT attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way.
    · DO NOT underestimate the destructive power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car. Water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
    · If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.

Drinking Water Safety

  • · Listen for local advisories about drinking water. Public or municipal drinking water systems are evaluated by the State and county health departments to determine whether boil water advisories or other actions are needed to ensure safe drinking water. If a boil water order is issued for your community, bring the water to a full rolling boil and maintain the full boil for at least one minute. Any time your drinking water appears cloudy, muddy, or even slightly discolored, it should not be used for drinking or cooking until it is disinfected.
    · Private drinking water wells that have been covered with floodwaters need to be disinfected and tested before they are used. Contact your local health department for information about residential well testing and disinfection. For additional information on food and drinking water safety, call DOH's Environmental Health information line at 1-800-458-1158.

Food Safety

  • · Discard food without a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with floodwaters.
    · Commercially canned food:
    • o Remove labels thoroughly.
      o Wash cans.
      o Disinfect with solution of ¼ cup unscented household bleach per one gallon of water and air dry.
      o Re-label cans, including expiration date.
      o Discard food containers with screwcaps, snap lids, and home canned foods if they have come in contact with floodwaters.

Loss of Power

  • · Never run generators in indoor spaces, such as garages, basements, porches, crawlspaces or sheds, or in partlyenclosed spaces such as carports or breezeways. Generators should only be operated outside, far away from and downwind of buildings.
    · Never use a charcoal grill or a barbecue grill in your home or garage. Using a grill indoors will cause a buildup of toxic Carbon Monoxide (CO).
    · Open the refrigerator and freezer as little as possible; food in the refrigerator will remain cold for four to six hours if the door isn't opened.
    · Eat the most perishable items first, such as leftovers, meat, poultry and foods containing milk, cream, sour cream, or soft cheese.

Returning Home After a Flood

  • · Stay informed- Listen to the radio or TV for instructions from local officials.
    · Wait until an area has been declared safe before entering it. Be careful driving; roads may be damaged and power lines may be down.
    · Stay away from downed power lines.
    · Before entering a building, check for structural damage. Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter or tank. Let the building air out to remove foul odors or gases.
    · When entering the building, use a battery-powered flashlight. Do not use an open flame as a source of light. Gas may be trapped inside the structure.
    · When inspecting the building, wear rubber boots and gloves. Do not step into standing water. Watch for electrical shorts and live wires before making certain the main power switch is off.
    · Do not turn on electrical appliances until an electrician has checked the system

One other disaster to update: that freight train sideswipe incident last week in Montgomery County that shut down a stretch of Route 5 and halted freight and passenger rail traffic in both directions. Amtrak's Cliff Cole says things are returning to normal.

NEW at 12:29pm ::: Emergency Management info from Montgomery County -   Joint State/FEMA preliminary Damage Assessments will begin today and continue through tomorrow if necessary.  These teams will be conducting road and bridge damages as well as outdoor home assessments.  These assessments are the first step in the State requesting Federal Disaster assistance.   These assessments are conducted by FEMA/State team canvassing village streets and door to door.  Residents do not have to be home for these assessments.

At this time there has been no Federal Disaster Declaration and there is no paperwork for residents to file for assistance.

If a disaster is declared in the coming weeks, County wide notification will be made, explaining to residents how to apply for assistance


Currently on scene assisting residents is Montgomery County Department of Social Services, with representatives helping people currently receiving aid and taking new applications from people who may now qualify for state and county help.  They are stationed


The American Red Cross continues to maintain the Emergency Shelter at the Ft Plain Elementary School.  Also at that location is food and a client case worker manned by Red Cross personnel.  Cleaning supplies can be obtained at the Methodist Church at 39 Center Street.  Red Cross trucks are driving on village streets offering food, water and snacks.