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Officials Watching Water Levels Closely Into Weekend


The unpredictable weather over the past several days led to an increased risk of flooding caused by ice jams on New York’s rivers. While water levels have dropped recently, there is plenty more winter ahead.

The Route 418 bridge in the tiny Warren County town of Thurman was closed for nearly two weeks. Ice clogged the upper Hudson and waters rose, washing out a nearby road.

Thurman town supervisor Cynthia Hyde said the one-lane bridge is one of two heading out of town.

“Most of the traffic goes over the 418 bridge because people for the most part are going south out of Thurman into Warrensburg and Glens Falls and Lake George area and that bridge is…it was tough on people and they were anxious for it to be open,” said Hyde.

The bridge reopened Wednesday. Water levels mostly dropped Wednesday and Thursday with clear, cold weather. But the threat of flooding remains with warmer weather forecast for this weekend and several weeks of winter to go.

The upper Hudson remains packed with ice.

“It is pretty jammed up. It looks like pure, just chunks of ice fill the river,” said Hyde.

On Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo sent assessment teams to nearly 50 ice jams and flooded areas in New York, following a week of freezing and thawing temperatures. Teams included officials from the state Departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, and State Police.

In a statement, Cuomo said he has directed the National Guard andother responders to be ready, and asked “all New Yorkers to stay tuned into local weather reports and prepare for potential flooding into the weekend.”

Earlier this month, evacuations were held in some riverfront communities.  Local officials were left to figure out how to clear away piles of ice.

Plattsburgh Police Lieutenant Brad Kiroy spoke to WAMC after flooding displaced about 30 residents of a mobile home park.

“We’re considering a mechanical clearing of a portion of the jam itself to allow the river to open up to thereby alleviating the bottleneck, if you will, of water that’s coming into the park.”

Minor flooding occurred in Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood, where a frozen Mohawk River was broken up after warm temperatures.

City officials have been monitoring water levels closely, says city Public Safety Commissioner Michael Eidens.

“We are about a foot below flood stage. And we think that will continue to…water level will decrease over the next several days and then we’ll watch it closely throughout the weekend. But we’re prepared.”

Eidens said Thursday the city’s fire and police departments have been communicating with county emergency officials several times each day.

“Another thing that we’re doing of course is monitoring the websites which indicate and checking with the water levels at Lock 8 and then at Freeman’s Bridge and at Rexford Knolls and at Vischer’s Ferry because there’s roughly a 12-mile-long sheet of ice broken up that’s frozen and locked in place and the water that flows downriver has had to find its way below that or alongside it in channels. And it’s been so cold lately that it’s frozen again rock-solid.”

Eidens said the city will be on alert with warmer temperatures Saturday.


Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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