Press-Republican

June 13, 2013

State of emergency in Franklin Co.; flood damage in Clinton Co., too

Franklin County, part of Clinton hit hard

By DENISE RAYMO and FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Franklin County declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning as flood waters closed 28 roads, especially impacting homes in Fort Covington and Malone.

One elderly man was evacuated from his home on Salmon Street in Fort Covington by a water-rescue team that found his place surrounded by water and bombarded by floating limbs and other wood.

In Clinton County, several roads were closed in the Town of Saranac, where flooding attacked Square Pond Campground on Square Dashnaw Road on Tuesday night.

CAMPGROUND CLEARED

“It was very scary for a bit,” campground owner Andrea Dashnaw said. “Everybody here was evacuated but myself and my boyfriend.”

Her daughters, Katelynn, 16, and Sarah, 11, were taken to safety and are staying with an aunt until the end of the school year, Dashnaw said.

“Our whole road to get in and out of here is done,” she said. “It was very quick. At 5 o’clock, my nephew came in and said the brook was getting really high.”

The bridge that supported the campground’s only entry road — both private entities — was washed away.

It took only about 45 minutes for the floodwater to cause tremendous damage, Dashnaw said.

“Just the bridge is going to be about $200,000 (to replace).”

She does not have flood insurance on her home or the campground, she said.

RESCUED DOG

Flooding is nothing new for Ron Benware, whose property on Lower Park Street in Malone was under water just a few months after a 4,000-foot ice jam raised the Salmon River.

“I just got it all cleaned up,” he said of his backyard, which on Wednesday was mostly covered with several inches of water.

At about 3 a.m., in his pajamas, he had to wade through the yard to rescue his dog, whose igloo-shaped doghouse had flooded. He also saved his lawn tractor, which he’d just used to mow the backyard.

He and his wife, Wanda, operate an adult home and have elderly tenants who enjoy the river’s beauty.

But its ugly side was showing Wednesday.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen this in the 38, 39 years we’ve been here,” Benware said. “The water was up to the blacktop of the driveway, but it’s gone down a little.

“But my wife is distraught,” he said. “I’m 63, going on 64. I’m getting too old to start over again.”

‘STAY PUT’

The Salmon River was expected to crest about 2 p.m. Wednesday, with more rain in the forecast in the coming days, Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost said after notification from National Weather Service officials.

The county declared the state of emergency, and Provost said some Malone and Fort Covington residences were surrounded by floodwater.

“We’ve talked to the people, and we’ve told them to stay put, and we’ll get to them,” he said.

Malone Town Supervisor Howard Maneely said three families on Studley Hill Road, about 8 miles from downtown, were trapped in their homes, “but we just talked to them, and they say they can be there for a couple of days.”

SANDBAGGING

Provost said in an email that the county was in contact with Brookfield Power, which owns and operates the dam on Brand Road. 

The company said the 36-inch overflow pipe at Macomb Dam had been opened, and the operation center in Fort Covington was aware of that.

“It doesn’t look like they’ll need to open the dam because the water is subsiding,” said John Gamble, superintendent at the Potsdam office of Brookfield Power.

“We were sandbagging in Hogansburg and were getting ready to sandbag at Macomb, but the water seems to be going down,” he said. “We sent people over, and we were ready for it to come up.”

Gamble said about 2 inches of rain had fallen, and even though there was more in the forecast, “it’s going to be more like nuisance showers — nothing like we got overnight.”

‘THIS IS SCARY’

Water-rescue teams were being pressed into service in both communities, but Fort Covington was the priority at about 9 a.m.

An emergency command post was established at the Fort Covington Fire Department, where Deputy Director John Bashaw was coordinating the effort.

The bridge on Spaulding Road in Bangor washed out, so the road was closed from LaFlesh Road to Baker Road.

“We’ve got widespread issues,” Provost said.

Alice LaPage stood in the parking lot at Salmon River American Legion Post 1418 on Water Street, mesmerized by the high volume of fast-moving water churning past.

“This is unreal,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. We figured the water was up, but we weren’t expecting this. This is worse than the spring.

“I’m glad we’re on the other side of town,” LaPage said. “This is scary.”

Backyards along Water Street that chronically flood were inundated again, including at the home of Tom Jock at 73 Water St., whose outdoor gazebo was halfway full of water.   

The river rushing past Babbling Brook RV Park was roaring in Westville, and it jumped its banks and created a new channel for several hundred feet before rejoining the river again.

ACCIDENT IN SARANAC

More than 24 hours of steady rain damaged other roads and bridges Saranac, and as emergency responders dealt with that emergency on Wednesday morning, some were diverted to an accident that was not flood related on Route 3 in Saranac. 

A pickup truck crashed into a tree, and one person was taken to CVPH Medical Center by ambulance.

Flood warnings were in place for Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties, though Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said on Wednesday afternoon that no flooding issues had developed there.

AuSable Forks, Clintonville and Keeseville were among communities where the Ausable River could create issues, the Weather Service said.

‘WATER RECEDING’

By late Wednesday afternoon, Clinton County Emergency Services Assistant Director Kelly Donoghue had been at flood sites in Saranac for several hours.

“Right now, the water has been receding, which is good,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ve seen the crest of the water and (it) will slowly (continue to) recede.”

However, as is always true with Mother Nature, there are no guarantees, he said.

Roads closed as of 4:20 p.m. Wednesday were Bowen Road, River Road, True Brook Road, Cold Brook Road, all in the Town of Saranac.

Donoghue cautioned drivers to stay off closed roads and bridges as a matter of safety.

“There are reasons why we continue to close roads,” he said. “Until officials are able to get a good look at the road or the bridges, we can’t deem (them) safe until all potential issues have been reviewed.”

If citizens see flooding, they should contact their local highway or public works department to report it, he said.

“We are continuing to monitor the weather conditions as well as the road conditions throughout the county,” Donoghue said.

PUMPING OUT

Dashnaw’s employees returned to work at the campground in Saranac on Wednesday.

“They have to drive on a little 4-wheeler trail to get here,” she said. “There’s no way for me to get out because I only have a car.”

The town was planning to widen that track some today, she said.

“Until that gets fixed, I can’t leave.”

Dashnaw was still in the process of pumping water out of her flooded basement on Wednesday evening.

“I’ve just been pumping it out since (Tuesday). The focus is to get the water out right now.”

LAKE BELOW FLOOD STAGE

Lake Champlain remained safe from flooding, as far as officials could tell.

On Wednesday, the water level measured 98.6 feet, said Mike Muccilli, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Burlington.

“We don’t expect it to reach flood stage” over the weekend, he said.

Flood stage is 100 feet.

“It’s still pretty far below.”

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CLOSED ROADS

Franklin County

Bangor: County Route 16 (Bacon Road), County Route 8 (Farm-to-Market Road), County Route 53 (Bangor Road) and part of Walkerville Road and Route 11.

Bombay: Cotter Road and part of Cold Springs Road.

Burke: Constable/Burke Townline Road at Fountain Street.

Constable: Poplar Street. Dickinson: County Route 14 (Red Tavern Road).

Duane: Studley Hill Road and California Road.

Duane and Franklin: County Route 26 (Port Kent Road).

Fort Covington: County Route 43 (Drum Street Road).

Hogansburg: Tarbell Road and Beaver Meadow Road.

Malone: County Route 41 (Fayette Road), County Route 25 (Duane Road), Lower Park Street, the Willow Street bridge and Lafayette Street.

Moira: Potter Road, Mill Road and Savage Road.

Clinton County

Bowen Road, River Road, True Brook Road, Cold Brook Road, Square Dashnaw Road, all in the Town of Saranac.