Posted at: 07/30/2009 4:17 PM
Flood leaves speedway underwater
NEW LEBANON - The rain has finally let up, but states of emergencies remain in effect in several communities. Those include Chatham, Kinderhook, New Lebanon, Philmont and Stuyvesant in Columbia County. Nassau and Stephentown are under a state of emergency in Rensselaer County.
Residents in affected parts in Columbia County are advised to boil their water for 15 minutes just as a precaution.
New Lebanon is one of the hardest hit areas. Each summer the Lebanon Valley Speedway pumps millions of dollars into the Columbia County economy.
For the next several days they'll be pumping out gallons and gallons of murky water.
There's no doubt the racing is on hold. The season came to a screeching halt overnight.
Hundreds of people camp out there, but their trailers and cars are submerged underwater and the dirt track now looks like a lake.
Onlookers peered over ledges and stood frozen on guardrails, gazing at the RVs submerged in four feet of dirty water.
"It's just major devastation," said Bob Newton, who lives in East Nassau with his wife Jennifer, just five minutes away from the speedway.
As they stared in disbelief others rushed into action. Mike Felton of North Adams waded through the filth trying to save his 28-foot motor home and everything inside. He says his brother was there when the rain flooded in.
"And he was supposed to move my camper and he moved his and his neighbors, but it got to be too much too quick," Felton said.
"Terrible, absolutely terrible," Felton added.
Speedway owner Howard Commander is trying to stay upbeat as they pump out and clean up
"It is kind of comical to see six, seven, eight feet of water come in less than five hours," he said.
But Commander feels for the fans who camp across the street and the racers who keep their trailers there all summer long.
Two buildings at the speedway are a total loss and dozens of people haven't even gotten into their trailers to assess the damage yet. The good thing is most realize this is about property loss -- it is not a matter of life and death. But it involves a lot of peoples' livelihoods.
"This is more than just a hobby," Felton said. "We put our heart and soul in this."
Jennifer Newton worries about the impact of the flooding.
"It is sad. It's going to be a blow to the economy with the track underwater," she said.
But Commander vows to be back in business as soon as possible.
"As soon as the water backs off, we'll go 100 miles per hour to get everything ready to go," he insisted.