The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the village of Herkimer closed off Mohawk Street and a portion of state Route 28 Wednesday morning for an exercise to erect a floodwall closure. The project began at 7 a.m. and the floodwall was constructed and disassembled by 9:15 a.m.
The DEC and the Herkimer Department of Public Works planned the training exercise to make sure village staff are familiar with how to construct the floodwall if a flood emergency was to occur. The exercise also ensured the closure plates and the wall are in good working order and able to be quickly assembled.
“If a flood does occur the DEC will alert the village to erect the wall and they might only have an hour’s notice to get to the area and assemble the wall before the floodwaters enter into the village, so the exercise allows village workers to become familiar with the assembly process,” said Stephen Litwhiler, DEC citizen participation specialist.
“Flood solutions really need to be engineered to benefit the community and the eight-foot high aluminum floodwall held in place by vertical beams designed by DEC Army Corps Engineers is very strong and is essential to the community if a flood occurred,” he added.
Due to the potential for flooding the floodwall was built in 1960 along with another closure wall on the Conrail tracks behind Wal-Mart.
Throughout the years a series of levees and nine ponding areas near the Erie Canal, Mohawk River and West Canada Creek have also been constructed to prevent flooding, Litwhiler said.
“The likelihood of having a hundred year flood in someone’s lifetime is 40 percent and with that chance there is a 40 percent chance that a flood control structure would be needed,” he said.
The DEC and village periodically perform the floodwall training exercise so village staff can easily assemble the wall should a flood emergency develop.
Litwhiler said the last time the floodwall was constructed was about five years ago.
The Herkimer Flood Control Project received $624,000 under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY Works program. The work directed by the DEC began last year and will continue into this year to repair and clean the closure plates for the two erectable closures.
Route 28 was closed between the Thruway exit and Caroline Street during the exercise.