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Ice Jams Cause Flooding Again

Montgomery County Emergency Management
Wagners Hollow Road in the Town of Palatine covered with ice on Thursday morning

Following unseasonably warm temperatures this week, several communities across the region have been dealing with flooding caused by ice jams.

On Wednesday morning, a day when temperatures would reach into the 70s, local officials were keeping a close eye on the waterways in their backyards.

Here’s Albany County Executive Dan McCoy.

“The sheriff has a response plan in place, we work with him and we work with fire prevention and Homeland Security to make sure that, with the state, to make sure that everything’s in place and we’re all communicating. So if something does happen, we’re ready to respond.”

Over the next several hours, the warm temperatures caused river ice to break up and dam rivers and tributaries across the region.

The National Weather Service issued flood warnings for portions of Schenectady, Saratoga County, and Albany Counties along the Mohawk.

Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood, which had minor flooding last month due to ice jams on the Mohawk River, saw flooding Wednesday into Thursday morning. The Daily Gazette reported that some residents voluntarily evacuated their homes in the riverside neighborhood.

Further up the river, in Montgomery County, it wasn’t the Mohawk itself that overflowed its banks, but nearby tributaries.

An ice jam in a small stream in the town of Minden caused flooding, leading to the temporary closure of Sanders Road. The road was reopened Thursday morning.

By then, officials were still dealing with flooding along the East Canada Creek in the Town of Palatine. A stretch of Wagners Hollow Road was closed and three homes were evacuated.

Jeff Smith is Director of Montgomery County Emergency Management.

“There was no loss of property, nobody injured, and those people were taken to family residence and safe last night. But this road, most likely, will not even be open after the work we do today. It’s still that much of a problem.”

Smith said, for now, the Mohawk is not of major concern. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t become one.

“There’s still a ton of ice on the edges of our rivers and creeks and streams. And when the water comes up, that ice starts to move and it jams. And it’s a complicated issue,” said Smith.

Areas of the Adirondacks and northern New York were also plagued by flooding.

In Clinton County, ice jams on the Great Chazy River threatened flooding in the Town of Champlain.

Clinton County Emergency Services Assistant Director Kelly Donoghue said an excavator from the New York State Department of Transportation was on hand Thursday morning to address ice buildup in the hamlet of Perry’s Mills. 

“You always kind of play with the ice a little bit to make sure that you can relieve some of the pressure but sometimes it backfires.”

In Franklin County, Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill said crews were focusing their efforts in the hamlet of Hogansburg in the Town of Bombay.

“The St. Regis River has rose considerably and continues to rise. A matter of fact, during the night, the Hogansburg fire and rescue evacuated 30 to 35 people,” said Mulverhill.

Several residents were also evacuated in the Town of Fort Covington. Some were previously evacuated during a flooding event in January caused by ice jams.

While waters were receding in several areas Thursday morning, many communities were monitoring high or rising water levels. Residents are encouraged to check in with their local officials for the latest information in their regions.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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