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UPDATE: Fonda Fair postponed; Gilboa Dam structurally sound (with video)

August 29, 2011
Updated 6:10 p.m.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo tours flood-ravaged southern Schoharie County on Monday with local first responders.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo tours flood-ravaged southern Schoharie County on Monday with local first responders.

— Sunday’s torrential rains did no structural damage to the Gilboa Dam, officials said this afternoon as residents in Schoharie and Montgomery counties deal with historic flooding aloing the Schoharie Creek and the Mohawk River.

Governor's tour

To view video of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's aerial tour of the devastation in Schoharie County, click HERE.

Engineers from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, which operates the dam, performed a full engineering inspection this morning and determined the dam is structurally sound, according to city officials. The water level in the Schoharie Reservoir continues to decline as streams in the area recede, leading the city agency to deactivate the dam's Emergency Action Plan.

Due to very heavy rain associated with Hurricane Irene, the reservoir, which provides drinking water for New York City, received extraordinary water flows that raised the water level to an unprecedented 1,137.95 feet above sea level at 2:30 p.m. Sunday - nearly 1 1/2 feet higher than the previous record, set during a storm in January 1996.

Rainfall at some points in Schoharie County exceeded 8 inches Sunday. Upstream in Greene County, some points got over 13 inches.

At Burtonsville, creek levels rose to a record 15.31 feet late Sunday and early today, with the water now recorded as receding. The old record was 12.9 feet.

Upstream at Breakabeen, water hit 22.37 feet Sunday. The record was 20.5. The creek there had fallen back below flood stage this morning.

Flooding along the Schoharie Creek ran all the way into Montgomery County, where the creek spills in the Mohawk River in Fort Hunter. Montgomery County emergency management officials ordered the closing of all bridges over the creek, including those on state routes 161 and 5S, while the New York State Thruway bridge over the creek was also closed. That bridge replaced one that washed away during severe flooding on April 5, 1987, killing 10 people.

The river itself was also experiencing extensive flooding, with waters submerging the Fonda Fairgrounds, where the Fonda Fair was scheduled to open Tuesday. Officials ordered the complete evacuation of the fairgrounds Sunday night, and fair officials announced today that they will wait to being the event on Thursday.

The Fonda Fair Board surveyed the fairgrounds this morning, and officials had hoped the fair could still go on as expected.

“The fair will go on!” said Montgomery County Agricultural Society President Richard Kennedy, in a release issued today on the fair website.

Fair officials are asking any individuals willing to stop by when it is safe to help clean up the grounds.

The fairgrounds are located on Route 30A in Fonda, about a half-mile off exit 28 of the Thruway.

Rescues from areas near the Schoharie Creek continued this morning, as county emergency officials worked to assess the damage from Sunday’s torrential rains, a spokeswoman said.

The villages of Middleburgh, Schoharie and Esperance all sustained a “great deal” of water damage, county spokeswoman Karen Miller said.

But this morning, the focus of many was in rescues. The National Guard was assisting state emergency management officials and local fire departments to get residents who didn’t get out Sunday, out today.

“We do have some people that are trapped in their homes and we are trying to get to them as quickly as possible,” Miller said.

Rescuers are using helicopters, trucks and other equipment to get to them, Miller said.

Despite the rescues, Miller said they had no reports this morning of injuries.

As for the residents that did get out, Miller asked that they not yet try to return

“We still have a lot of water, road closures and damage to bridges,” Miller said. “For safety’s sake, we ask people to please wait until everything has had a chance to be inspected.”

Miller also noted that the county remains under a state of emergency.

 
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