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FLOOD: More than 100 seek shelter in Fort Plain

Friday, June 28, 2013
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Michaela Schuyler, 19, a volunteer with the Fort Plain Fire Department, shovels muddy water in front of the Village Hall following flooding in Fort Plain on Friday, June 28, 2013.
Photographer: Patrick Dodson
Michaela Schuyler, 19, a volunteer with the Fort Plain Fire Department, shovels muddy water in front of the Village Hall following flooding in Fort Plain on Friday, June 28, 2013.

— More than 100 people are in an emergency shelter on high ground in the village of Fort Plain, where officials said massive flooding wiped out roads, inundated homes and vehicles and destroyed infrastructure.

Fort Plain Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Smith — also Montgomery County undersheriff — said the department received a 911 call at 6 a.m. Friday reporting the Otsquago Creek was overflowing its banks on Abbott Street, or state Route 80.

Additional Coverage

Montgomery and Schoharie counties were declared disaster areas

Water levels of the Mohawk River in Schenectady are expected to drop

Recent water levels of Mohawk River at Little Falls.

Flood concerns force postponement of Jumpin’ Jack’s fireworks tonight.

Flooding forces multiple road closures in Mohawk Valley.

The flooding prevented portions of the Erie Canal from reopening, which has been closed for two weeks due to repairs from previous flooding.

Several officials gathered at the Canajoharie Fire and Police departments to speak with the media this afternoon. There were no known injuries by roughly 12:30 p.m. Friday, and officials were not aware of any power outages.

Smith said only minutes passed before the creek began rushing into Reid Street and Main Street in the village — seven years to the day after flooding from the Mohawk River devastated the village and others in Montgomery County.

Smith said rushing floodwater landlocked firefighters for awhile and officials told residents to shelter in place as long as possible.

All Montgomery County villages and towns west of the town of Mohawk are under travel advisories and officials said some roads and bridges are still being checked for safety.

Fort Plain Police Chief Robert Thomas said authorities are now keeping an eye on the villages of Fonda and Fultonville further east along the Mohawk River.

Residents on Park Street — numbering around 60 — are being asked to consider a voluntary evacuation because forecasts predict the Mohawk River could overflow its banks.

The county’s annex building, situated on Park Street a stone’s throw from the Mohawk River, was shut down at noon, authorities said.

Montgomery County Undersheriff Adam Schwabrow said Fort Plain evacuees are being sheltered at the Fort Plain school district’s Harry Haog School

County Public Works Commissioner Paul Clayburn said the Otsquago Creek was the culprit, not the Mohawk River, this time.

“I’ve never seen the Otsquago Creek run that high,” Clayburn said.

Clayburn said he’s aware of severe damage in Herkimer and Otsego counties but it’s unclear yet if the damage is extensive enough to yield a disaster declaration.

Sheriff Michael Amato said the Sheriff’s Department was able to rescue pedestrians and a stranded motorist during the height of the flooding.

Several bridges in and around Fort Plain are closed, including two crossing the Otsquago Creek on state Route 80.

A milk truck driver was circling the rural area trying to get to two dairy farms that needed milk retrieved this morning.

Destruction from flash flooding extends well beyond the village limits. To the south, the McPhail Road bridge crossing the Canajoharie Creek was completely underwater this morning.

Spring Street in the town of Minden, leading to Fort Plain, is washed out in several areas, and the roadway leading to the bridge on Casler Road is buckled and possibly undermined.

Residents east of Canajoharie are gawking at the Mohawk River where it has completely covered the Canal Lock E-14.

Amato said a bridge on the Canalway Trail is partially buckled into a creek and authorities are planning to shore it up.

Earlier today the American Red Cross opened up an emergency shelter in Utica at the Mohawk Valley Coommunity College.

In response to the damage, Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, whose district includes Fulton County, said constituents are encouraged to call his district offices if they are in need of help. People in Fulton County should call his Johnstown office at (518) 762-6486.

“My heart goes out to the families, businesses and farmers who are facing the aftermath of heavy rains that have caused flash flooding in Herkimer, Fulton and Oneida counties," Butler said in a statement. "I urge caution in these flooded areas and encourage people to rely on our emergency personnel rather than risk their lives."

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