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Moriah area hit by severe flooding, road washouts

April 27, 2011
The Associated Press

MORIAH (AP) - Emergency officials were assessing the damage Wednesday in three northern New York counties where dozens of roads flooded and some were washed out after severe thunderstorms dumped more than 2 1/2 inches of rain across the eastern Adirondacks.

The storms that rolled across upstate New York on a northeasterly track starting Tuesday afternoon dropped nearly 2 inches of rain in the Syracuse area and 1.5 inches to 2.7 inches in the three-county region in the state's northeast corner, according to the National Weather Service office in Burlington, Vt.

Authorities said flooding closed nearly 60 roads across the Adirondacks, most of them in Essex County, scene of some of the worst damage. County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish told local media that roads were closed throughout the county and numerous homes had to be evacuated.

There were no reports of injuries.

Jaquish said a bridge over a stream washed out as a woman drove her sport utility over the span in the town of Moriah, on Lake Champlain's western shore. She managed to scramble to safety, but her SUV was left dangling over the edge of the chasm before it fell in, he said.

A local fire chief was injured when the road he was driving on collapsed under his car while he was returning from a flooding call, Jaquish told the Press-Republican of Plattsburgh. He was taken to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington. His condition wasn't available.

About six roads were closed by flooding Wednesday in neighboring Clinton County, said Eric Day, the county's director of emergency services. Officials in Franklin County said there was some flooding in the county's south, but no road closures were reported.

The storms socked parts of central New York with high winds and hail, causing damage earlier Tuesday to homes, barns and other structures in several communities around Syracuse. Roads were flooded throughout the area, and a section of Interstate 81 just north of downtown Syracuse was closed for two hours after the highway became inundated and motorists had to be rescued from their cars.

Officials from the state Office of Emergency Management were in central and northern New York Wednesday to assess the damage, but agency spokesman Dennis Michalski said it was too early to give an accurate estimate.

"We're really early into the game so far," he said. "We're not going to see any hard numbers yet."

Forecasts Wednesday and Thursday predicted more rain for parts of the Adirondacks, where snowmelt from the higher elevations was contributing to the flooding, officials said. The water level on Lake Champlain, already 1 1/2 feet above flood stage, is likely to rise some more by the weekend, Nash said.



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