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Capital Region storm brings flash floods

July 2, 2014
Updated 5:46 p.m.
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A motorist is stranded due to severe flooding on Merlin Drive in Niskayuna
A motorist is stranded due to severe flooding on Merlin Drive in Niskayuna

— Torrential rains accompanying a thunderstorm Wednesday afternoon led to reports of flash flooding and submerged vehicles, lightning strikes, downed power lines and collapsing ceilings.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood warning for Schenectady Saratoga, Albany and Rensselaer counties until 8:30 p.m.

In addition, the weather service had implemented a severe thunderstorm warning for Schenectady, Schoharie and Albany counties, but lifted it around 3:15 p.m.

The weather services warns this storm is "capable of producing damaging winds in excess of 60 mph."

This is in addition to widespread reports of flooding.

"At 2:21 p.m. EDT National Weather Service Doppler radar indicated flash flooding from a cluster of thunderstorms over the warned area," the weather service reported. "Doppler radar estimates that two to three inches of rain has fallen across portions of the warned area with an additional one to two inches possible over the next several hours."

A flash flood warning means that flooding is imminent or occurring.

In Niskayuna, Supervisor Joe Landry reported multiple roads flooded, including Rosendale Road near Niska Isle.

“Highway crews are out there barricading streets right now,” Landry said mid-afternoon.

The reports have been centered on the eastern part of town, Landry said.

Landry spoke before going out to survey the town himself.

Two people were rescued from a car caught in rising waters on Merlin Drive in Niskayuna, District 2 Fire Chief Charlie Friderici said.

Firefighters were called to the scene at about 3:20 p.m. after their car got caught in a low spot on Merlin Drive off Route 7.

A firefighter used a raft to pull the driver and passenger safely from the car and bring them to safety, according to neighbors who witnessed the rescue. Both were uninjured.

The driver worked at the Living Resources home on Merlin Drive, and the passenger was a resident there who was unable to walk, neighbors said.

Elsewhere in town, a home at 809 Harris Drive sustained damage to two basement walls during the storm. Both walls were compromised, Friderici said. The residents evacuated and utilities were shut off, he said. The town’s building department was notified.

In all, the District 2 department responded to 17 or 18 calls Wednesday afternoon, mostly for water in basements. He expected that number to possibly get up to 25 by day’s end.

 
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