Heavy rain, mild temperatures have emergency crews busy today
A rain storm and rising waters across the North Country Friday was expected to transition into colder temperatures Friday night and today.
The Essex County Office of Emergency Services issued a winter storm warning until 4 p.m. Saturday with snow and sleet accumulating from 6 to 10 inches and below-freezing temperatures reaching the negative teens.
Much of Essex and Franklin counties suffered from melting snow and heavy rain, causing floods Friday in certain parts of the North Country such as AuSable Forks and Saranac Lake.
Jay town Supervisor Arthur Depo said the flooding was caused by an ice jam in the East Branch of the AuSable River near Upper Jay. It didn’t create much of a problem for Jay and Upper Jay but caused flooding farther down the river in AuSable Forks.
The Jay and Upper Jay fire departments responded to the flooding in AuSable Forks with their swift-water rescue crews. AuSable Forks Fire Volunteer Department personnel said they could not comment at that time because of the high volume of emergency calls coming in.
The Upper Jay fire department later confirmed that the flooding subsided and no evacuations were required in AuSable Forks.
Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost said he’s expecting high water until midday Saturday.
The Essex County Office of Emergency Services alerted residents of road closures on its website Friday. State Route 9N was closed between John Fountain Road in Jay and AuSable Forks at 2:10 p.m., and the north end of River Road in Lake Placid was closed at 12:56 p.m. Shortly before 8 p.m. the emergency office announced that Route 9N was reopened but Haselton Road in Wilmington was closed between John Bliss and Silver Lake roads.
The home of Rip and Shirley Allen on Kiwassa Road in Saranac Lake flooded. The backyard turned into a pond, and the basement had water up to a grown man’s calves.
“We’ve been here 30 years,” Shirley said, “but we’ve never seen it like this.”
Rip said the flooding must have started around midnight Friday.
“It wasn’t bad at first,” he said. “Maybe just that much.” He held up his thumb and index fingers indicating only a small amount of water.
As the day went on, the flooding became much more substantial. The couple is used to a few inches of flooding whenever it rains. Shirley kept all the clothes in the basement in totes, and she put Rip’s tools on top of folding tables. This helped, but major appliances and necessary elements of the house took on over a foot of water.
“There goes my furnace,” she said. “There goes my fridge.”
The backyard was even worse. At least 4 feet of water covered the first few steps of a children’s play slide and almost submerged the bench of a rocking swing.
“I ought to start charging people to skate on my new ice rink to pay for my furnace,” Shirley said sarcastically.