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July 2, 2013

Officials: Flood risk remains high

By Denise Richardson Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Mother Nature dealt Chenango County heavy rains and flooding Monday night, while flash-flood watches remained in effect for Chenango, Otsego, Delaware and Schoharie counties into tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

Multiple flood emergencies were ongoing, particularly in the towns of Otselic and Sherburne, the City of Norwich/Chenango County Emergency Operations Center reported on Facebook at about 7 p.m., and more than 3 inches of rain had fallen in Sherburne on Monday.

At about 9:45 p.m. Monday, the NWS warned residents along the Chenango River in Sherburne who experienced flooding from the river in 2006 or 2011 to take immediate preparations to protect life and property.

Chenango County was under a flood warning at 7 p.m., the NWS said, and the Chenango River in Sherburne was projected to be at 10.4 feet at about 2 a.m. today.

The level would be higher than the river crest on Friday of 10.14 feet and just below the major flood stage of 10.6 feet, officials said.

As of 10 p.m., no calls had been made for rescue situations, Chenango dispatchers said.

Emergency services officials in Delaware and Otsego County said Monday afternoon that damages from last week’s storms were mostly minor and temporary, however, they remained vigilant about weather forecasts and conditions.

A flash-flood watch means a potential exists for flash flooding, a dangerous situation, the NWS said, and a warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring.

Showers and thunderstorms with heavy rain are expected today and tonight, the NWS in Binghamton said. The forecast calls for 1 to 2 inches of rain with isolated downpours of 2 to 4 inches.

In Schoharie County, which is part of the eastern New York and western New England region, the NWS in Albany estimated rainfall of 1 to 3 inches of rainfall Monday into today, and isolated amounts of up to 5 inches.

The NWS in Binghamton said heavy rain could cause localized flash flooding of streams and urban and low-lying areas, and rivers already running high could flood Monday night or today.

In Otsego County, David Mattice, National Weather Service observer in Emmons, said rainfall remains in the forecast for days and follows a wet June.

Last month, rainfall in Emmons totaled 6.89 inches, Mattice said, and with the hit-or-miss pattern of thunderstorms, some other local areas had more than 10 inches of precipitation last month.

Though the June statistic at Emmons wasn’t a record, the total was 3.27 inches more than normal precipitation of 3.62 inches, Mattice said. June temperatures ranged from 36 to 88 degrees, he said, and the month overall was 1.8 degrees below normal.

On Monday, U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand urged FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to swiftly approve New York state’s request for a federal state of emergency declaration because of recent severe flooding in the Capital Region, Central New York, the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley. 

The senators’ request includes Federal Emergency Management Agency public assistance for Chenango, Delaware and Otsego, among other, counties, and hazard mitigation statewide. 

The local counties were among 15 counties declared Saturday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be in a state of emergency.

As of Monday afternoon, storms had caused minor damages to some roads in Delaware County, specifically in Hancock and Deposit, said Richard Bell, director of emergency services. The department staff was watching weather forecasts vigilantly and ready to answer any emergency calls, he said.

In Otsego county, a section of county Route 31 was washed out Friday and the highway has been closed between Cooperstown and Glimmerglass State Park.

Kevin Ritton, Otsego County Office of Emergency Services coordinator, said rainfall has caused sporadic washouts across the county, and motorists should observe detours and not drive into flooding roadways.

Crews that are called to respond to cars stalled in a flooded roadway aren’t available for other emergencies, he said, and some motorists have moved detour signs, then not replaced them.

“We are just asking people to travel with caution,” Ritton said.