CHESTER -- They had been cut off from the outside world but didn't show it.
The residents of Old River Road went about their business as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening Wednesday -- tending to gardens and raking lawns -- even as they were trapped by the rising waters of a swollen Hudson River.
"I kind of feel like Nero, raking while Rome burns," said longtime Old River Road resident Tom Goodman as he picked a handful of leaves off the ground and loaded them into the bucket of his front end loader. "I guess we won't be getting any mail today."
Old River Road, a dead-end byway cut more than a century ago along the banks of the Hudson, has traditionally been the first to feel the wrath of ice jams or heavy spring rains. While local emergency crews monitor the road regularly, quickly rising river levels -- like those on Wednesday -- have regularly stranded the road's dozen households from emergency response.
And human culture tends to adapt to nature's regularity.
"We call them flooding parties," said Helene Goodman.
Burgers on the grill and cold beer or sodas highlight the gathering of those whose yards have become desert islands.
"When we put the margarita sign out, the neighbors know it's time for a drink," said Walt Boneski.
Like the Goodmans, Boneski and his wife Marguerite worked outside their home, raking leaves and hanging summer-season adornments on the structure's outside walls.
Throughout the North Country region, flash thunderstorms added substantial amounts of water to rivers and lakes.
Two sections of 13th Lake Road in Johnsburg also were washed out overnight and are likely to remain closed for weeks, according to Warren County Department of Public Works Superintendent Jeff Tennyson.
A similar issue caused a washout further west, between Parrish Road and Beach Road, and that section of the road will remain closed until repairs can be made, as well, Tennyson said.
"We're anticipating that there will be some state or federal money available," Tennyson said, adding that he was working up a cost estimate for the repairs. "We're in the tens of thousands of dollars, probably, from this one."
Johnsburg Supervisor Sterling Goodspeed said eight or nine town roads had been damaged as well by two waves of storms. One came through late afternoon Tuesday, the other early Wednesday.
"It's a bad situation," he said.
River Road in Lake Luzerne was also closed because of flooding, officials said.
In Hamilton County, Lake Abanakee had crested its dam, letting even more water into the swelling Hudson River. Dozens of North Country roads were flooded and closed, especially in Essex County. Emergency declarations were issued in the towns of Moriah and Jay.
The North Creek Volunteer Fire Department, in concert with Chester highway crews, had hoped to ferry the residents of Old River Road out before the water level made the byway impassable. The waters -- measured by U.S. Geological Survey crews at over 12 feet -- even licked the doorsteps of the North Creek Rail Depot, which sits a full foot higher than Old River Road.
With up to four feet of flowing water in the road's low points, no evacuation could be put together in time for the inhabitants of Old River Road.
"Short of wading through, I don't see how we can get them out," said North Creek Fire Chief Steve Studnicky, of the road's residents. "I wouldn't attempt to put a vehicle through it."
U.S. Geological Survey surveyors said the river was running at or near the record, at about 27,000 cubic-feet-per-second of water flowing within, and on top of, its banks.
Officials said that the prediction of even more rain and the leaking Abanakee dam could see the river rise even higher.
When an ice jam flooded Old River Road in March, emergency crews were able to drive a large brush truck through the flow, but reported it was almost swept away. Earlier this week, thunderstorms knocked out the Warren County emergency communications tower atop Gore Mountain, leaving local emergency crews with only spotty radio capabilities.
Although emergency responders were concerned about the lack of access to Old River Road, its residents just hoped the flood wouldn't leave a mess.
"We're just hoping the junk and logs keep flowing by so someone else has to clean it up," said resident Marguerite Boneski.
Reporter Don Lehman contributed to this report.