A Fort Plain woman was missing after flash flooding tore through parts of upstate New York, including Herkimer and Montgomery counties, officials said Saturday.
Police Chief Robert Thomas of Fort Plain in Montgomery County said Ethel Healey was unaccounted for after her mobile home was washed away by rising waters Friday. Healey, who resided at 34 Reid St., had not been located through search and rescue efforts Friday evening, Thomas said. “We can confirm that it was her residence that was washed away by rapidly rising waters as officers attempted to get everyone in that area to safety,” he added in a written statement released Saturday. “It can be confirmed that officers in the area saw her prior to the house being displaced, but we cannot confirm that she left the area at that time.”
Thomas said police began searching for her with specialized K9 units and search teams after the waters began to subside. A state police helicopter survey of the area did not indicate any survivors on the banks of the creek. The search was suspended at 10 p.m. Friday for safety reasons.
“We now are turning our search and rescue mission into that of a recovery mission,” Thomas said in a written statement. “We have called New York State Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers to aid in that mission as well as other agencies to help locate any victims.”
He said during the course of the evening Friday, police received calls from several residents who had left their homes and were able to account for most residents. Village and state highway crews were continuing to clean up the Abbot and Reid Street areas and traffic was being restricted to emergency vehicles only.
Anyone who left the Abbot and Reid Street areas was asked to contact the Fort Plain Police Department at (518) 993-3781.
Officials say 70 buildings in Fort Plain were damaged by the flood.
Chairman Vincent Bono of the Herkimer County Legislature said that despite severe flooding there was no loss of life in his county.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo toured areas damaged by flooding Saturday and said a disaster declaration would remain in effect for 15 counties.
“We think the worst is behind us for now,” Cuomo said at a briefing in Herkimer. “You’ve had people’s homes that are just destroyed and demolished in a matter of minutes, just out of the blue. We want you to know that we are here and we will do everything possible to help. You are not alone. You have neighbors, you have friends who care. You have agencies, not-for-profit agencies who are here to help. They say it’s darkest before the dawn, but we’ve been through this before. We come together and we come out of it better than we went into it. And the same is going to happen here and we’re all going to make sure it happens here.”
Page 2 of 4 - Cuomo said homeowners whose property was damaged should be eligible for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Cleanup efforts continued Sunday as residents emptied flooded basements and work crews worked to repair roads and clear mud and debris from ditches and culverts.
The village of Mohawk remained without power and crews were on the scene at the village municipal electric plant working to restore electricity to village residents. Initial reports indicated it could be several days before power is restored, but the village’s Facebook page indicated that the village was attempting to turn the power back on to the village. The village was relying on homeowners to inspect their own electrical boxes to make sure power could safely resume inside their homes.
National Grid field crews and support personnel continue to reach out to hundreds of electric and natural gas customers who had their services impacted by flood waters across the Mohawk Valley, especially in the hardest hit areas from the Herkimer/Mohawk region east to Fort Plain, according to a statement from National Grid. Door-to-door contacts were under way during the weekend to ensure that services are safe and that residents have all the information they need with regard to flood damage and necessary safety measures prior to service being re-established.
The Central New York Chapter of the American Red Cross has started mobile feeding in the villages of Ilion in Herkimer County and Whitesboro in Oneida County for residents who have lost power or have been unable to relocate after Friday’s severe flooding.
Red Cross vehicles carrying sandwiches and other lunch items were in those areas Sunday, and planned to deliver hot meals later in the day. The Red Cross is asking residents in those communities to keep an eye out for Red Cross vehicles in their area.
The Red Cross is also looking for volunteers to help assist the flood victims in Oneida, Herkimer and Madison counties. Volunteers will provide sheltering, feeding and other services for the residents who have been displaced from their homes.
To volunteer, visit the Central New York Region office at 344 W. Genesee St., Syracuse, from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday or Tuesday, to fill out the necessary paperwork.
Anyone who wants to make a financial donation to the Red Cross to help the flood victims can donate at www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.
Public Health nurses were scheduled to drive the Montgomery County Van 312 throughout Fort Plain Sunday to offer free adult tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (Tdap) vaccine to adult residents affected by the flood.
Page 3 of 4 - Montgomery County residents affected by the flood may receive vaccines at Dr. Govind Rao’s office, 16 Hancock St., Fort Plain, today (Monday) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. No appointment is necessary. This clinic is sponsored by the Montgomery County Public Health Department and Dr. Govind Rao.
Fort Plain Mayor Guy J. Barton declared a state of emergency in the village Saturday evening.
John Thayer, chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, declared a state of emergency in the county effective Friday at 8 a.m. “due to severe damage to infrastructure in the towns of Glen, Root, Mohawk, Minden, Canajoharie, St. Johnsville and Palatine and the villages of Fonda, Fultonville, Fort Plain, Palatine bridge, Canajoharie, Nelliston, Ames and St. Johnsville. Another emergency declaration was issued Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and noted the “severe damage to the infrastructure in the town of Minden and the village of Fort Plain.”
Minden town Deputy Supervisor Robert V. Perry declared a state of emergency in that town Friday at 8 a.m.
Torrential rains over the last several days resulted in flooded basements, weakened or damaged foundations and services being undermined by flood waters. National Grid crews spent most of yesterday and last night assessing damage, removing and locking off meters, and working with municipal first responders to assure the safety of residents in the flood zones.
National Grid representatives will be contacting affected customers directly with safety and re-connection information. In addition, the company will locate its mobile emergency operation vehicle as a walk-up resource, beginning tomorrow at 9 a.m. at 125 North Washington St. at the Village of Herkimer Fire Department.
The company began distributing dry ice to customers in need, Sunday afternoon at the Herkimer Fire Department and at the Owen D. Young Central School at 2316 State Route 80 in Van Hornesville. Dry ice will also be available Monday at the same locations.
As of this morning, more than 100 electric and gas field workers are in the affected communities and working with local first responders to assure the public’s safety and continue the process or checking for meters or other equipment that may have been affected by flood waters. In addition, dozens of support personnel will be in the field to assist customers with safety information, lists of available inspectors and other matters related to their service.
Page 4 of 4 - Moderate flooding is expected to continue along the Mohawk and Susquehanna rivers through Monday morning. The National Weather Service has posted flood warnings for those rivers.
Several roads remained closed Sunday. Long term closures are expected for the following: Route 51 from Ilion to Cedarville, Route 169 from Kelly Road to West End Road, Route 80 from Montgomery to Otsego County, Route 5 from Route 10 to 334 and Route 168 from Columbia St. to 167, according to the state Department of Transportation.