By DENISE A. RAYMO
---- — MALONE — Absorbent material was placed along the swollen Salmon River Wednesday to capture oil that has leaked into the flooded area of Lower Park Street.
It is the latest hurdle that Town of Malone and Franklin County officials have had to clear while coping with a 4,000-foot ice jam that has sent the river flowing freely into the street for the past week.
As many as a dozen houses were evacuated as the river rushed in to yards and, eventually, cellars, filling them with water and forcing electricity to be cut to nearly all the homes from 181 Lower Park to 377 Lower Park.
Wells and septic systems are being threatened by the influx of water. Officials said that any of the impacted residents who need bottled water can call Emergency Services at 483-2580.
The river was rising Wednesday as snow melted from a storm earlier in the week, and more challenges are on the way.
The latest report from the National Weather Service is predicting wind gusts today and tonight at 65 mph, accompanied by 1½ inches of rain, said Ricky Provost, director of Franklin County Emergency Services.
“That’s really a lot more rain than we expected,” he said, which prompted a meeting late Wednesday afternoon to see if there are any precautions that can be taken that haven’t already been made.
Provost said he’s had plenty of suggestions about how to remove the ice jam, but he is not convinced they are safe.
He said that cutting holes in the ice or placing salt in the water sound like good ideas, “but how do you do that safely with no organization or study? You have to weigh that against the risk.”
Provost said an attempt at a solution might make the situation worse or endanger people.
“There isn’t a whole lot we can do. We can’t make the river go where we want it to. We just have to monitor it and (react) if we have to move more people out.”
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