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Flooding, washouts close roads in Warren, Essex counties

2011-04-27T11:00:00Z 2011-05-04T12:16:12Z Flooding, washouts close roads in Warren, Essex countiesJON ALEXANDER -- jalexander@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star

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.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. tony
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    tony - April 28, 2011 5:02 pm
    Does anyone know exactly what part of 13th Lake Road is closed? Can you still get to the parking lot on the north end? Thanks.
  2. DWC121
    Report Abuse
    DWC121 - April 28, 2011 4:00 pm
    woodchuck2 said: "I do not believe it is a matter of a lack of maintenance as it is a matter of excessive water runoff and excessive amount of debris being washed away. The debris belongs to mother nature, we have changed or modified the normal routing of runoff/drainage and should expect damage like this when such severe weather happens."

    The excessive amount of debris from Mother Nature should have been removed from the roadside ditches before it caused a problem. Yes, when excessive rain fall occurs, you should expect catch basins and drainage pipe to NOT handle the excess flow. If they get blocked by foreign material as suggested in the original article, that is inexcusable.
  3. DWC121
    Report Abuse
    DWC121 - April 28, 2011 3:47 pm
    nottheaverageguy said: "DWC121, the debris is part of the foreverwild state park and can't be removed without an APA permit! "

    Sounds like what APA would say (chuckle-chuckle)... but I'm sure branches not attached to a tree, twigs, DEAD leaves, bottles, cans, rubish, etc, can be removed from roadside ditches without an APA permit.
  4. woodchuck2
    Report Abuse
    woodchuck2 - April 28, 2011 10:28 am
    I do not believe it is a matter of a lack of maintenance as it is a matter of excessive water runoff and excessive amount of debris being washed away. The debris belongs to mother nature, we have changed or modified the normal routing of runoff/drainage and should expect damage like this when such severe weather happens. Just how does one prepare for such events when none like this has occurred since these roads and culverts were installed? 13th lake road washing out? We all knew it was going to happen, just a matter of when. The way the hill was carved out, the design of the retaining wall and the amount of water shed that road gets i am surprised it lasted as long as it did.
  5. adkgirl
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    adkgirl - April 28, 2011 7:38 am
    "They had been cut off from the outside world but didn't show it." True Adirondackers at their best!
  6. nottheaverageguy
    Report Abuse
    nottheaverageguy - April 27, 2011 6:33 pm
    DWC121, the debris is part of the foreverwild state park and can't be removed without an APA permit!
  7. nottheaverageguy
    Report Abuse
    nottheaverageguy - April 27, 2011 6:29 pm
    one more comment to add;
    you can see people leaning on a rake or shovel in numbers at any state /county road job
  8. nottheaverageguy
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    nottheaverageguy - April 27, 2011 6:27 pm
    so i wonder how they got the interview and pictures if the roads was closed. was it such a story that they hiked it through the woods to see people raking their lawn?? funny they never mentioned the white water derby thats a little over a week away. a few pictures of the river where they actually canoe and kayak would have been better use of a roll of film.
  9. DWC121
    Report Abuse
    DWC121 - April 27, 2011 3:34 pm
    "The washout occurred overnight when a pair of culverts became clogged, Tennyson said". So the question is why did they become clogged? In this case I think it was poor maintenance. If the County had maintained the culverts and previously removed debris upstream, the culverts probably would not have clogged. The possible exception is if large debris floated to the culverts from thousands of feet away (In that case, who’s debris was it?).

    If I am wrong, this could be a great way for local municipalities to reduce their expenses (and reduce our local property taxes). Go real easy on maintenance, and when something happens, ask a higher government authority for a hand out. The state and Feds get their money from me, and I’m tired of giving them money. If there is a local road problem, the local government should be responsible. If the argument is the road is owned by everyone, then either get rid of local DPW’s, or let the local DPW’s get ALL their revenue from the State or Feds.
  10. AdkOutside
    Report Abuse
    AdkOutside - April 27, 2011 12:19 pm
    13th Lake Road is in The Town of Johnsburg - mostly maintained by Warren County
  11. NCC-1701
    Report Abuse
    NCC-1701 - April 27, 2011 12:01 pm
    The accompanying picture caption states 13th Lake Road in the Town of Chester; 13th Lake Road is ion Town of Johnsburg as the article correctly states.

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