BY LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — JAY — An emergency meeting at the Town of Jay Community Center on Saturday was called to plan a course of action if the Ausable River continued to rise above flood levels.
Minor flooding was expected overnight from Saturday’s rains, Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas said.
“The Town of Jay Community Center in AuSable Forks is our command post and we will work together with the American Red Cross and the AuSable Forks Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary to open our shelter if need be,” Douglas said in a news release. “Some might ask why we held this meeting early (Saturday), and I can only say that we learned something from Irene — you never know how quickly the waters will rise and we want to be ready.
“We are preparing for the worse and hoping for the best.”
Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) was present for the briefing, while Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru), Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Jay Public Works Director Chris Garrow joined via telephone.
In attendance were AuSable Forks, Jay, Upper Jay, Keene and Keene Valley Volunteer fire department officials and the Ladies Auxiliary from the AuSable Forks Fire Department, AuSable Forks Ambulance officials, and Jay, Keene and Black Brook town officials. Also on hand were Essex and Clinton County Emergency Services directors and officials, American Red Cross, New York State Police and Essex County Sheriff’s Department, public works departments and Town of Jay/Black Brook Emergency Services Director Dan Deyoe.
“The North Country Chapter of the American Red Cross has notified our disaster volunteers and we are prepared to mobilize at a moment’s notice,” Lynn Gilbert, executive director of the American Red Cross North Country Chapter, said in the release. “If necessary, we will provide sheltering, feeding or canteening to all members of the community as well as first responders.”
Red Cross Regional Response Manager Cheryl Murphy said they’re on alert and ready to open a shelter if needed.
“We are ready and willing to work with the American Red Cross to get meals for residents if the need arises,” Shelley Thwaits of the AuSable Forks Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary said.
First Assistant Chief Mike Cross of the AuSable Forks Fire Volunteer Fire Department said they have rescue boats on standby and ready to put into service.
“It’s assuring that we have met and that emergency personnel are monitoring roads and currently there is no urge to evacuate,” Keene Town Supervisor William Ferebee said. “We will review National Weather Service information again tonight (Saturday).”
“We’re hoping the rain will clear out and there will be no major damage,” AuSable River Association Executive Director Corrie Miller said. “But, if there is extreme flooding and a need for work in the river, the Ausable River Association will be on call to provide technical assistance to DPWs and contractors so they can protect the health of the river ecosystem at the same time as protecting people and property.”
Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish and Clinton County Emergency Director Eric Day have been monitoring the National Weather Service reports, and reported at 2:40 p.m. Saturday the river was at 6.9 feet.
It was anticipated that the water would crest at 9 feet and start to recede after midnight Saturday. Minor flooding begins at 7 feet, severe flooding at 13 feet.
“Anybody that lives along the river (Keene Valley to Keeseville) that is prone to flooding, please watch the water levels into the evening and be prepared to evacuate if necessary,” Jaquish said.
“The AuSable Forks Volunteer Ambulance will be on standby, for we now operate 24 hours,” according to Ambulance Chief Bill Minogue.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also pledged the state’s aid, Douglas said.
“He has offered any New York state assistance should the need arise. We are most thankful for all Governor Cuomo’s help in the past and as we prepare for any future possible flooding.”
Emergency officials were monitoring the river overnight and would respond immediately if flooding occurred, Douglas said.
Email Lohr McKinstry:firstname.lastname@example.org