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Flooding after intense rain Sunday causes outages, road closures across parts of upstate NY

New York State Police officers rescue multiple stranded motorists in Orange County.
New York State Police
Facebook [screenshot]
New York State Police officers rescue multiple stranded motorists in Orange County.

Intense rain Sunday led to road closures, power outages and emergency responses throughout the WAMC listening area.

As rain pounded the Hudson Valley Sunday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a State of Emergency for Orange County after up to 9 inches of rain. Speaking this morning in Highland Falls, Hochul said the storm washed out roads and devastated several communities.

"And once again the skies opened up and brought so much rain, nine inches of rain in this community, that they're calling this a 1,000-year event," Hochul said. "It's only the second time ever that the National Weather Service issued a flash flood emergency; the last time was Hurricane Ida. My friends, this is the new normal. And we in government, working with our partners on the ground, have to work with our communities, to build up resiliency, to be prepared for the worst because the worst continues to happen. You only need to walk through the streets and see the pain in people's eyes."

Photos shared by State Police showed impassable roadways. More than 12,000 power outages were recorded in Putnam, Ulster, Orange, Dutchess and Albany Counties. According to reporting website poweroutage.us, as of 11:15 a.m., about 3,000 customers remain in the dark.

WAMC interview with New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray
WAMC interview with New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray>

Mary Alice Molgard is American Red Cross Eastern New York Region Disaster Public Affairs Team Leader.

"In Middletown there was a building collapse on Sunday afternoon," said Molgard. "One individual there was evacuated from his residence and we have provided him with financial assistance to replace food, clothing, and to find a place to live. In Putnam County we had individuals who were forced out of their residence on North Drive in the town of Carmel, and they also have been given financial assistance. But today, there is a shelter that's been opened in Highland falls in Orange County. That was the site of some very major flooding. The site is at the Sacred Heart of Jesus school on Cozzens Avenue in Highland falls. Currently there are 11 individuals who have taken shelter at the school we're expecting that there will probably be additional folks that will come in later today."

Officials say the storm has already wrought tens of millions of dollars in damage and canceled hundreds of flights from New York and Boston.

Amtrak service is temporarily suspended between Albany and New York City due to severe weather that affected Metro-North Railroad.

Bryan Jackson is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service:

"The dynamics we see in the cold season, so you know where there's stronger storms, but you've got the energy and moisture of summer, so the combination of those two over the Northeast looks to cause particularly bad flooding," said Jackson.

In Albany County, Cohoes Mayor Bill Keeler says his city was spared major destruction but there is one road closure in place.

"State Route 32, which is also known as Saratoga Street in the city of Cohoes is closed because there was about two feet of standing water on the roadway that water has since receded, but about three feet of fill under the pavement has since washed out. So we're keeping the road closed until we can repair that damage," Keeler said.

In the North Country, Clinton County Emergency Services Director Eric Day says the county has seen three rounds of flooding so far this month. He says Sunday's rainfall led to instances of "isolated problems" across the county.

"For those folks that have been impacted, you know, pretty devastating, it's, it's never easy to have, never easy when Mother Nature takes a punch at’cha," said Day. "You know, as far as total impact, you know, I don't think we're, you know, we're, we're not really probably at the level of Irene yet, you know, that we were we were pretty lucky, then we had a lot of damage, we were pretty lucky then. But we're not quite to that level yet. You know, as far as quantity or volume of impacts, you know, people that are impacted from this event, you know, in fact did to pretty severe level, or similar levels of those impacted, and I read, but the quantity of folks impacted is not there yet."

Day says he's keeping an eye on weakened roadways that could potentially be washed out, and urges motorists to do likewise.

“We know life goes on," Day said . "People need to get to appointments, people need to go shopping, people need to go places and do things, we get that. But if you're if you're out and about and it's raining heavy, you know, be very careful and cautious. If there is water over the roadway, do not drive through the water. Turn around, it's not safe.”

A statewide state of emergency is in effect in Vermont, where some campers had to be evacuated. Governor Phil Scott delivered his own briefing this morning:

"This is an all hands on deck response we are closely coordinating with
federal partners I just got off the phone with FEMA Administrator Criswell who offered full support from the federal government," said Scott.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.