Press-Republican

Local News

September 1, 2012

Irene brought death along with destruction

PLATTSBURGH — Tropical Storm Irene took more than buildings and land when it struck the North Country.

The monster storm also claimed two lives.

Danine R. Swamp, 24, of Nedrow and Mikita Fox, 23, of Wikemikong, Ontario, died shortly after midnight on Aug., 29, 2011, when their car plunged into the Great Chazy River from Devil’s Den Road in Altona, where the storm had washed out a bridge.

Swamp had been a student at Clinton Community College, where she studied math and science from fall 2009 to spring 2011.

She was a standout pitcher on the college’s women’s softball team and earned the title of Intercollegiate Softball Most Valuable Player in 2010-11.

“She was an important part of the campus community, active in sports and also a member of the Honor Society, so what a tragedy that she died in that natural disaster,” Clinton Community College President John Jablonski said this week. 

“It’s just a reminder that sometimes things happen so suddenly.”

Many other casualties were averted when the powerful remnants of Hurricane Irene swept through the region, as emergency responders rescued people from fast-flooding homes.

WHAT’S IN A NAME

People in the North Country weren’t sure what was approaching, as forecasts wavered between the words hurricane, tropical storm, tropical depression and subtropical depression.

“The classification of the storm does not make a difference,” Clinton County Deputy Administrator Rodney Brown said. “It’s about the amount of damage caused.”

Irene, for the record, was classified as a Category 1 Hurricane when it landed in North Carolina on Aug. 27.

As it made its way up the East Coast and impacted the North Country, it was downgraded to a tropical storm, according to the National Weather Service.

The downgrade was based on wind speeds. Tropical storms feature winds between 39 and 73 mph. Anything above 74 mph is considered a hurricane.

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