MALONE — Congressman Bill Owens toured the flood damage on Lower Park Street Tuesday and vowed to see that the Salmon River is dredged.
About a dozen homes were evacuated a week ago when a 4,000-foot ice jam on the Salmon River caused it to overflow, leaving at least 3 to 4 feet of water in several basements.
The ice jam starts at 181 Lower Park, and the river is flowing down the middle of the street from 305 Lower Park to 377 Lower Park toward Brand Road.
Franklin County Emergency Services officials said this is the farthest south an ice jam has formed on the river, which means homes typically spared from problems during the annual January thaw are having issues with their septic systems and water wells because of the flooding.
Officials are also worried that free-floating debris in the swift current could cause damage and interrupt cleanup efforts once the ice starts to melt.
BEFORE AND AFTER
Owens (D-Plattsburgh) met with town and county officials Tuesday who gave him an overview of the problems. They shared before-and-after pictures of the river that showed the flooded homes and the river’s characteristics before much of it became clogged with sandy shoals.
The release of several tons of sediment from the Chasm Falls dam in 1997 is to blame for the shallow water in the 300 block of Lower Park Street, making it a chronic flood zone.
The Salmon River was 26 feet deep in the early 1990s, but that has been reduced to just 6 inches in many spots along Lower Park Street, and large shoals have formed.
Niagara Mohawk, which is now known as National Grid, paid a fine to the State Department of Environmental Conservation for the 1997 release but did not clean it up.
Flooding has occurred nearly every year since the release, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has told Malone officials the town is responsible for the cleanup, which could cost $2.5 million.