The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Local News

August 29, 2011

Area braces for more flooding today

Southeastern Delaware County and other areas in the Catskill Mountains were hit hard Sunday by Hurricane Irene, leaving at least one person dead.

Elsewhere, thousands of area residents, including one in three NYSEG customers in Otsego County, were in the dark and there were few indications on when electricity would be restored.

Massive flash flooding struck the Catskill Mountains and the communities of Fleischmanns, Margaretville, Prattsville and Roxbury were devastated, according to emergency officials.

Meanwhile, river flooding is expected on the Delaware River system, and evacuation preparations are under way in Walton and Downsville. A state of emergency remains in effect in Delaware County.

Delaware, Greene and Schoharie counties were declared federal disaster areas, making them eligible for assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A woman in her 70s was killed in Fleischmanns when the Valkyrian Motel was swept away by the raging water, according to a report from The Associated Press, which sourced the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.

The Delaware County Sheriff's Office, when contacted Sunday night by The Daily Star, would neither confirm nor deny there was a death and referred all questions to state police.

"We have a death in that area. (Bureau of Criminal Investigations) is investigating it," said Sgt. Brian Weidman of Troop C Headquarters in Sidney.

Weidman said he did not have any details but said it was the only known fatality from Irene in the area.

The hurricane was downgraded to tropical storm status soon after making landfall in New York.

"Wind destruction and flooding in various locations throughout New York state and New England were catastrophic, but other locations escaped unharmed," local weather observer David K. Mattice of Emmons said. "This could have been a whole lot worse."

Mattice said many people were impacted by Irene, while others were able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Mattice said 3.37 inches of rain fell in Oneonta by 3 p.m. Sunday.

"We escaped the wrath," he said of those in the immediate Oneonta area.

But he said rainfall varied greatly. The NWS reported as much as 8 inches fell in some areas. Rainfall totals were unavailable for the hardest hit areas in southeastern Delaware County.

"It's a time of great sadness for a lot of people," he said.

With the Pepacton Reservoir expected to start spilling over Sunday night, moderate flooding is expected today in Downsville and evacuation preparations began Sunday for flood-prone areas.

Video footage and photos posted on Facebook and by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office on the photo-sharing website flickr.com document devastation in those communities, with cars, trucks, businesses and homes inundated by roiling brown water.

The mountain towns were in many cases cut off by washed out roads and even National Guard helicopters were not able to immediately assist in rescuing people from the raging waters due to weather, according to emergency officials.

A state of emergency remains in effect in Delaware County. All roads in the county are closed, by order of the chairman of the Board of Supervisors. All travel is restricted to emergency personnel and essential employees.

Dean Frazier, a spokesman with the Delaware County Office of Emergency Services, said at around 3:30 p.m. Sunday there have been no known fatalities in the county from the storm. The report of a woman being found dead came at around 7 p.m. Sunday.

But damage is still being assessed and emergency crews were having a difficult time reaching Margaretville and Fleischmanns, which he said were underwater.

The village of Fleischmanns was evacuated and the National Guard was called to rescue people by helicopter, but could not fly because of the weather, he said.

Other areas of Delaware County were largely spared the massive flooding seen in Roxbury, Fleischmanns and Margaretville, according to Frazier.

"They don't seem to be affected nearly as much as Fleischmanns and Margaretville," Frazier said.

Frazier said he did not know when the emergency travel ban would be lifted because damage is still being assessed.

Rain from Irene lingered in the area well into the afternoon.

"There is some indication the storm has slowed a bit and that's what's causing the additional rain," Frazier said.

More flooding expected

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