Deluge causes flooding in Schoharie County
Rising waters remind some of Irene’s fury
SCHOHARIE COUNTY — Officials declared a state of emergency in the villages of Schoharie and Middleburgh and the town of Schoharie on Friday following a deluge of rainfall that shut down roads, soaked farm fields and left dozens of elementary students stuck in school for hours.
Torrential rainfall just after 3 p.m. tore up roads in the town of Schoharie, leaving numerous streets impassable and forcing officials to leave the children inside Middleburgh Elementary School because buses couldn’t get to them.
Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond said there were no reports of injuries in the aftermath of the deluge. Motorists on two separate occasions had to be rescued from their vehicles, however, firefighters said, after they drove into deep water on the road and their cars stalled.
Many storefronts on Main Street in Middleburgh — still reeling from the disastrous flooding associated with Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 — took on water again.
“I’ve never seen it rain so hard in my life,” said Dave Symons, who was helping push mud from the sidewalk in front of Hubie’s Pizzeria as a torrent of water continued flowing down Main Street.
Hubie’s Pizzeria was able to stay open. Owner Chris Hubbard said a relative brought some sandbags, which came in handy to keep the water from entering the restaurant. Hubie’s was among several businesses that took on six feet of water in late August 2011.
“You learn the drill,” Hubbard said.
Julie Brizzee said the fact that she installed tile flooring in her Shear Heaven hair salon on Main Street following the 2011 flooding saved her a lot of work. But the sight of water lapping against the front door brought back painful memories left by Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which followed about a week after Irene.
“It’s hard to keep it together,” said Brizzee, who marveled at the sight of dozens of people helping to clean muck off the sidewalk while waiting for the water to recede.
Rainwater gushed out of the hills east of Schoharie, leaving damage to Stony Brook Road, Colby Road, Warner Hill, Ward Lane and Spring Street, in addition to the intersection of Main and Bridge streets.
Schoharie Assistant Fire Chief Leonard Cater said one woman was pulled from her vehicle after her car stalled on Stony Brook Road.
The creek thundered towards the village of Schoharie several hours after the deluge. Large stones could be heard moving from the force of the water.
Desmond said there was so much debris left on the Frisbieville Road bridge that officials were unsure if it was damaged. The bridge checked out OK later, though, Cater said.
Damage extended to the town of Richmondville, where one side of the Warnerville Cutoff, which connects routes 7 and 10, was washed away, Desmond said. A portion of Route 10 near the intersection with Route 165 in the town of Seward was also closed for several hours because of flooding.
Ponding water could be seen on numerous crop fields up and down Route 30.
Middleburgh Mayor Matthew Avitabile said later Friday officials were still working to assess the damage.