Delaware and Schoharie escape recent flooding, but under disaster declaration
By Lissa Harris
June 29, 2013
With the Mohawk Valley reeling from severe flooding caused by recent rainstorms,Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a disaster declaration for 15 upstate New York counties, including Delaware and Schoharie.
In Schoharie County, the town and village of Middleburgh have also declared a state of emergency.
Rainstorms pounded the region on Thursday and Friday, but the Catskills escaped major flooding, with only a few minor flash floods on local roads.
Schoharie County Emergency Services interim director Kevin Neary said that although Schoharie County dodged recent flooding, the county is still recovering fromflash floods that tore through several towns and villages on Friday, June 14. The flooding damaged roads in Middleburgh, Schoharie and Richmondville; trapped schoolchildren in the Middleburgh Elementary School for hours; and left behind a layer of mud and debris all too familiar to local residents whose homes and businesses were hit hard by the Irene floods.
The June 14 floods caused about $2 million in damage, Neary said, according to a recent preliminary damage assessment done by New York State. With more thunderstorms in the forecast over the coming week, Schoharie County officials are keeping a close eye on the weather, Neary said.
“In Middleburgh, because of the Friday the 14th storm, a lot of their culverts are still clogged. There’s a blocked culvert under the school,” Neary said. “If we don’t unclog that, we’re going to continue to have floods.”
Forecasters are confident that more thunderstorms will strike over the coming week, but it’s impossible to predict where the rain will fall hardest. Neary said officials are better off safe than sorry. On Thursday, he urged Middleburgh town supervisor James Buzon and village mayor Matthew Avitabile to declare a state of emergency in case flash flooding strikes again.
“Right now, in Middleburgh, we’re under a disaster declaration based on imminent threat,” Neary said. “For the next week or longer, we’re going to have these continued rainstorms that are unpredictable. There’s no telling where these cells are going to hit. We want people to stay alert to the fact that we could have these downpours.”
In Delaware County, no severe flooding has been caused by the recent rainstorms, said county Emergency Services director Richard Bell. In fact, when contacted Friday afternoon — shortly after Cuomo’s disaster declaration press release was issued — Bell was unaware that the county was under a state disaster declaration.
“People’s driveways, heavy rain — but nothing that required a huge emergency services response,” Bell said. “No horrendous impacts at all. We’re actually looking to send people elsewhere to help, if they can.”
Both Delaware and Schoharie County have sent first responders to help out in more heavily flood-impacted areas in the state, under the state mutual aid program.