By FELICIA KRIEG and KIM SMITH DEDAM Press-Republican
---- — CHESTERFIELD — Flooding caused mayhem in Essex County on Wednesday with numerous road washouts and closures that resulted in one evacuation and the rerouting of a train.
“This storm came out of nowhere,” Essex County Director of Emergency Services Donald Jaquish said Wednesday night. “It rained tremendously.”
A Keeseville woman was evacuated Wednesday afternoon after mud began rising outside her Highland Road mobile home and flood waters flowed rapidly across her lawn.
“That will be closed for a while,” Jaquish said of Highland Road. “It’s pretty well damaged.”
ROAD CLOSURES, DAMAGE
Flooding had caused significant damage to other roads in Essex County as well.
State Route 22 was closed Wednesday afternoon from the intersection near Interstate 87’s Exit 33 in the Town of Chesterfield to Highland Road, he said.
“They’re working there now to try to fix the road and determine if it’s undermined. It (flood waters) washed out quite a bit of the roadway,” Jaquish said shortly before 8 p.m.
Portions of Corlear Bay Road washed out, also.
At one point in the afternoon, water crossed both lanes of Interstate 87 near Butternut Pond in Chesterfield, Jaquish said.
The Northway remained passable, though, the director of Emergency Services said.
A northbound Amtrak train had to be rerouted south to Westport at about 4 p.m., Jaquish said.
The more than 240 passengers aboard were being taken by bus to their destination Wednesday night, he said.
Jaquish said he was grateful for the help of Clinton County Emergency Services workers who assisted his department.
Officials in Saranac Lake and at state offices in Ray Brook are balancing water flow along the Saranac Lakes into the Saranac River.
The Upper, Middle and Lower Saranac lakes flow through a lock system above Oseetah Lake into Lake Flower, which is impounded by a dam in the village that then pours into the Saranac River.
From the chain of waterways through the Department of Environmental Conservation’s lower lock to Lake Flower Dam and below, the Saranac waters are testing boundaries.
Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau issued a warning early Wednesday, alerting village businesses and residents along the Saranac River to watch for rising water.
And with several more days of rain forecast, all eyes are on the water’s rise and fall.
“DEC Region 5 officials are now coordinating with village officials for a potentially large release of water from the locks to alleviate flooding in the Second Pond and Lower Lake areas,” Rabideau said in a statement.
“This action will affect those downstream, and the potential of localized flooding will exist.”
Ongoing communication between the village and state DEC officials is critical as water above is released through locks to the village below, Rabideau said.
“We remain in constant contact with the DEC, coordinating the water flows between the locks and the Lake Flower Dam as Mother Nature continues to pummel us with unprecedented heavy rains day after day.
“Village officials checked the Moose Pond bridge area this morning and found the water ready to crest the roadway there. Why do we check miles downstream? Because we care just as much for those living below the dam as those living above it.
“We’re all in this together, and we’re all doing the best we can given the constant rain.”
DEC issued a statement early Wednesday in conjunction with village personnel.
“The goal is to balance water levels as best as possible throughout the Saranac River system, including Lower Saranac Lake, the village and the waterways in-between. The village and DEC will continue to monitor water levels and coordinate water releases.”
High water means rivers and lakes throughout the region present some concern for Fourth of July weekend recreation.
The State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Recreation issued a warning to boaters getting ready for the holiday vacation.
High water and fast-moving rivers may pose unexpected dangers to boaters, Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said in a statement.
“Before setting out, we urge boaters to make sure they understand the conditions they’ll face and avoid bodies of water that may be unsafe. Don’t let a poorly planned boating trip turn your holiday into a tragedy.”
Parks and Rec and the U.S. Coast Guard strongly recommended boaters wear life jackets, especially while aboard small, manually propelled watercraft.
Local emergency officials advise citizens to heed flood safety tips: ▶ Never drive across a road covered in flood water as it could be washed out or damaged. ▶ Report flooding to local highway or public works departments. ▶ If flooding could put anyone in imminent danger, call 911 to report it. State officials encourage boating safety measures, especially with water so high throughout the Adirondacks and everywhere along Lake Champlain this weekend: ▶ Properly equip and carry essential safety gear, signaling devices and whistles. ▶ Always let others know where you're going and when to expect your return. ▶And always refrain from mixing alcohol with boating.