Press-Republican

June 15, 2013

Flood damage reaches $4 million

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Franklin County sustained more than $4 million in flood damage this week, not counting the destruction in the Village of Saranac Lake and other parts of Harrietstown, officials say.

They won’t be sure how high the amount will go until the water recedes in the southern end of the county and a full assessment can be made of the infrastructure.

And even then, if the amount of documented damage doesn’t reach the State Office of Emergency Management $26 million threshold to be eligible for federal disaster aid, it may be up to county taxpayers to foot the bill.

Emergency personnel are hoping that the destruction from Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday’s storms can be combined with the damage rain brought to Steuben and Columbia counties overnight Thursdays and into Friday.

That way, the total damage might meet the federal level for aid.

All three counties declared a state of emergency because of the storms’ destruction.

AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS

During a PowerPoint presentation before county legislators Friday, Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost showed a series of aerial photographs taken on two helicopter trips detailing the swollen Salmon River corridor from Duane and Fort Covington and Saranac Lake and Lake Flower.

Roads were awash with several inches of water, pavement was cracked and scoured, floating debris collected in front of Macomb Dam, and the floodgates were opened at the upper and lower locks that are controlled by the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Calls about water in the road began trickling in at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon as heavy rains pounded the region, “and by 7 o’clock, we knew we were in trouble,” Provost said.

Within 12 hours, 28 roads were closed.

He said that at one point, the water rose 5 feet at the Macomb Dam spillway.

“It was around it, through it and over it,” he said.

‘NO GUARANTEE’

Inmates from the Franklin County Jail filled more than 3,000 sandbags that were placed around Saranac Lake properties.

By Thursday afternoon, some flooding had subsided, which gave officials time to take a look at damaged roads and infrastructure.

As of Friday afternoon, the total was $4,173,000 and counting, Provost said.

The high water undermined a normally impenetrable head wall under Spaulding Road in the Town of Bangor, weakening the structure and creating a large hole in the surface pavement.

Repairs could run about $250,000, while a damaged bridge on Church Street in the Town of Dickinson will cost about $600,000 to fix, officials said.

Provost said his advice is for the county to start contacting lawmakers in Albany to make sure Franklin County gets attention and financial help.

But, he said, “there’s no guarantee we’re going to be getting funding for this.”

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com