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Irene: In Waterford, cleanup efforts going slowly (with photo gallery)

Flooding likely worst since 1938

Wednesday, September 7, 2011
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— Waterford is still cleaning up after the worst flooding in the village in 70 years, village Mayor J. Bert Mahoney said Tuesday.

“It’s the worst flood we have had since 1938,” Mahoney said.

He said longtime village residents tell him the Aug. 29 flooding on the Hudson River from Hurricane Irene was higher and more damaging than more recent high water events in 1996 and 1977.

Mahoney said 168 homes from South Street down to the Hudson River were heavily damaged “with water in their living spaces.”

Every few years, especially in the early spring, the Hudson will go over its banks and people living near the river will have water in their basements, he said. But in the case of last week’s Irene-generated flooding, some had three or four feet of water on their ground floor, Mahoney said.

The river crested at 5 p.m. Aug. 29 at 27.05 feet, with 21.5 feet considered flood stage, Mahoney said. On Tuesday, the river was up slightly, to 19.7 feet, because of off-and-on rain but wasn’t expected to rise much more, Mahoney said.

“We had three feet of water, right to the top of the dining room table,” said E. Richard Castle, who lives at 5 First St. “Right now everything is torn up.”

He said a FEMA inspector visited his home Tuesday to check for structural damage.

The American Red Cross has been providing hot meals to the flood-devastated neighborhoods for the past week.

Last week, after the river crested late on the afternoon of Aug. 29, volunteer fire companies from across Saratoga County helped the village pump out flooded homes.

Castle said he is lucky to have six grown children who came and helped him remove damaged furniture and other materials from the house after the water receded.

“They ripped out all the wet stuff like the sheet rock,” Castle said.

He and his wife, Mary Ann, are living at their daughter’s house on the north side of the village while his First Street home dries out.

“We are getting things cleaned up and waiting for the insurance guy,” said Castle, who has flood insurance.

“We have lived here 42 years, this is probably the worst [flooding],” Castle said, comparing it with flooding he experienced in 1996 and 1977, which were late winter or early spring floods caused by ice jams on the Hudson.

Mahoney said there were no injuries from the flooding. But he said he was down on Front Street on Thursday, helping with the cleanup when a woman backed her car into him, jamming him against a parked car. He said he was not seriously injured but his back is still very sore.

Mahoney said FEMA has had inspectors in the village the past few days, encouraging people who qualify to sign up for federal emergency aid.

Mahoney said he had no cost estimates for total flood damage. He said the village has already spent a considerable amount of money on contractors to help clean mud from the streets and remove refuse and debris.

The town of Waterford also suffered some flooding damage, including a trailer park across routes 4 and 32 from the Momentive Performance Materials plant. The Ursula of Switzerland plant on Mohawk Avenue was also damaged by flooding, said town Supervisor John Lawler.

Lawler and Mahoney said the Waterford Highway Department helped village residents clean up after the flood.

“The community came together real well,” Lawler said. He said the towns of Stillwater, Saratoga and Halfmoon also sent cots and equipment to help after the storm.

A temporary shelter for town and village residents whose homes were flooded was set up in the Waterford-Halfmoon High School.

“There were 150 firefighters in the village and town on Tuesday [Aug. 30],” helping to pump water from homes, Lawler said.

“The damage, for the individuals involved, is overwhelming,” Lawler said.

He said a number of homes in the mobile home park on routes 4 and 32 in the town were destroyed by the flooding.

He said the town’s wastewater treatment plant was damaged, as were some town roads and the visitor center at Lock No. 2 on the Mohawk River. He estimated that flooding and storm-associated damage costs, including overtime for the Highway Department, are between $300,000 and $400,000 for the town.

 

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