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Fort Plain struggles to fix damage

Incessant rain undermining flood recovery

Tuesday, July 2, 2013
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The former railway bridge that carried the Erie Canalway Trail over the Otsquago Creek in Fort Plain hovers over the water Tuesday.
The former railway bridge that carried the Erie Canalway Trail over the Otsquago Creek in Fort Plain hovers over the water Tuesday.

— The National Guard is expected to bring in heavy equipment to help Fort Plain get a former railroad bridge away from the Otsquago Creek before it falls, creates a dam and re-floods the village.

As that bridge teetered, officials late Monday shut down Clinton Avenue after engineers determined that the creek undermined the roughly $200,000 post-Irene slope-rebuilding project completed just last month.

Drainage pipes and what appear to be plastic sheeting are exposed on the lower portion of the slope where roughly 300 feet of the roadway dropped into the creek back in 2011.

“The bottom’s giving out,” Mayor Guy Barton said Tuesday.

Repairs for the road are now being planned.

Fort Plain’s difficulties following last week’s storms are just one example of the numerous issues in 23 counties where the state Department of Environmental Conservation will be issuing permits for emergency work.

“This action by the state will streamline the recovery process, allowing communities that have been flooded to respond and rebuild quickly without having to wade through unnecessary red tape,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release Tuesday.

Communities in a large swath of the state are facing damage to homes and other property as well as to public infrastructure.

There’s also the need to make repairs to creeks, remove debris and stabilize bridges, according to the governor’s office.

Sections of 32 roadways remained closed statewide on Tuesday, including four in Montgomery County.

These include Abbott Street, which is being periodically closed and re-opened as work continues, as well as Route 80 from Fort Plain south to Pumpkin Hook Road in Otsego County, according to the state.

Route 5S and Route 80 are closed at Main Street in the village.

Route 5 between Palatine Bridge and Fonda — unaffected by the rain — remains closed because of last week’s freight train wreck.

Several bridges are closed, including the Route 80 bridge in the town of Minden and Fort Plain.

Power remained out for 248 customers in the village, 101 had meters turned back on and another 121 buildings were reported as condemned or needing more work, according to the governor’s office.

Roughly 125 people fled to the Harry Hoag Elementary School Monday night after an evacuation due to heavy rainfall and concerns that either the canalway bridge, Clinton Avenue or both could fall and block the creek’s path.

Forecasts for more rain Tuesday night punctuated the need to make repairs as soon as possible, making a difficult situation even worse, Barton said.

“It makes it very discouraging. We’re crawling out of a hole trying to be successful ... we’re trying to work ourselves out of a hole, and we’ll probably get zonked again,” he said Tuesday.

He said work was progressing before the new evacuation and it was frustrating to have to pull the bulldozers out of the creek.

Barton said he met with National Guard brass Monday evening and it’s his understanding that they will be returning with bulldozers and other equipment to cut the old railway bridge in pieces and pull it out of the creek.

He said Cuomo gave him a call on Tuesday morning to offer re-assurances and help.

Barton said he doesn’t plan on heading for high ground if the creek floods again.

“When the ship goes down, I’m going with it. I’m responsible for the ship that’s floating, and I’ve got to keep the people going,” he said.

 
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