Sheriff: No damage or major injuries after flash flooding

Posted at: 06/14/2013 5:13 PM | Updated at: 06/15/2013 2:24 AM
By: Steve Flamisch

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SCHOHARIE -- Flash flooding washed out roadways, filled basements and yards with murky brown water, and stirred up bad memories of Tropical Storm Irene, but there were no reports Friday of any injuries or major damage in its wake, the sheriff told NewsChannel 13.

Only a section of River St. in the Village of Middleburgh remained closed early Saturday as road crews worked to clear away debris and mud, the sheriff said. All other roads had reopened.

"It's getting better," Sheriff Tony Desmond said after a day of high anxiety and high water.

The first reports of flooding came in shortly after 3:00 p.m. Friday, Desmond said. The water was rising quickly, covering several roadways and forcing detours. At least one car was caught in the water.

Stony Brook washed over a culvert on Frisbeeville Rd. in the Town of Schoharie, flooding Jack Miller's barns and livestock pens. His family's prize sheep, winner of a national competition, was struggling to keep its head above an estimated four feet of water.

"We took the fence down and got him out of there but then once we did, he got out here in the road and the water started taking him," Miller said. "He finally got his footing and got going, and we got him back in the barn."

Six other sheep were trapped in waist-high water in another pen, Miller said. None of the animals was injured, but Miller's hayfields were saturated. He said the damage could end up costing him several thousand dollars.

In the nearby Village of Schoharie, the flooding forced authorities to close a section of South Main St. for several hours. Water pooled at the intersection with Bridge St., where volunteer firefighter Richard Klingbeil was directing traffic.

"They want to get to Middleburgh but they can't get to Middleburgh because the road is closed down," Klingbeil, of the Central Bridge Fire Department, said. "They're going to have to wait or find some other way to get down there."

Those who did reach Middleburgh found heavy flooding at the intersection of Main St. and Wells Ave., outside the high school and middle school. Many people stopped to take photographs of the water coursing down the road.

"I had to come down and see for myself," Patty Lavelle, of Middleburgh, said. "It's bad, but not as bad as Irene."

Lavelle's friend, Emily Wyckoff, agreed.

"I'm thankful that it's not as bad as Irene," Wyckoff said, adding that she was pleased to see neighbors were helping one another clean-up.

A flooded culvert kept school buses from reaching Middleburgh Elementary School for several hours, stranding the children inside. They were not in any danger, the sheriff said.

A State of Emergency was declared in the Town and Villlage of Schoarie, and the Village of Middleburgh, authorities said. That declaration could make the municipalities eligible for federal and state disaster aid.

Elsewhere, there were reports of flooded basements and collapsed walls in the Town of Sharon, the sheriff said. Some damage was also reported in Cobleskill.



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