Flooding causes more damage, evacuations in NY

September 8, 2011 2:10:59 PM PDT
Spring Street in Middletown could have been called River Street or Ocean Avenue.

The neighborhood was flooded with a mix of storm water and raw sewage. It's the second time they've been through this in less than 10 days.

Residents here have complained for years about inadequate drainage, pipes that get overwhelmed during periods of heavy rain.

Thursday morning's torrential downpours caused extensive flooding throughout Orange County. Some roads in Warwick were impassible; while others haven't been fixed from the damage caused Irene.

One lumberyard took on three feet of water.

Supermarket workers scrambled to clear several inches of water. At a nursing home across the street over 100 seniors and their living quarters were ok, but the dining room was flooded again.

The farther north and west you go, the worse the flooding.

At Binghamton, N.Y., the wide river broke a flood record and flowed over retaining walls downtown as more than 8 inches of rain fell in some areas. Road closures effectively sealed the city off to outside traffic as emergency responders scrambled to evacuate holdouts who didn't heed warnings to leave neighborhoods.

"It's going to get worse," said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who urged residents to heed evacuate orders rather than wait until the flood danger is obvious.

"By the time it looks that bad, you won't be able to leave, so leave and leave now," he said.

There was also flooding upstream from Binghamton in Oneonta, N.Y., where dozens of evacuees sought help at a church center.

"By seven o'clock (Thursday morning), we got a knock on our door saying we had to leave," said Kevin Olmstead, a cab driver who had to leave with his fiancee, 10-year-old daughter and other relatives so quickly that he only had clothes, cell phone and an iPad. "We actually had to tread through the water to get out."

Evacuation orders were issued Wednesday to some 20,000 people in Binghamton and neighboring communities along the Susquehanna.

Roads and highways closed around the Northeast, including sections of New York's Interstate 88, which follows the Susquehanna's path. New York's Thruway Authority expected to close a 105-mile stretch of its busiest east-west highway, Interstate 90, because the nearby Mohawk River had overflowed its banks in some areas.

After three days of living in shelters because of Irene, Edith Rodriguez, her mother and her sister spent Wednesday night at a high school outside Schenectady, N.Y., when the latest storm chased them from their home near the Mohawk River.

"We just finished cleaning up after the flood from Irene," the 19-year-old said. "Now we have to start all over again."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has opened two more disaster recovery centers in the area.

FEMA announced Tuesday that new centers were opened at the Westchester County Center in White Plains and the Ulster County Business Resource Center in Kingston. Six other centers opened previously in Essex, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Greene, Ulster and Schenectady counties.

New York state agencies will join FEMA to provide services to the public at the centers. The Small Business Administration will also provide information about low-interest loans to repair or replace damaged property.