Officials to discuss flood safety

Representatives of emergency agencies around the region are expected to gather today in Binghamton t

Representatives of emergency agencies around the region are expected to gather today in Binghamton to discuss how best to deal with floods like those that devastated areas along the Mohawk, Susquehanna, Delaware and Hudson river systems two years ago.

While Schoharie County was spared the worst of the 2006 floods, the county is no stranger to the power of rising water along the Schoharie Creek, as well as smaller streams throughout the county.

Judith Warner, director of the Schoharie County Emergency Management Office, on Wednesday said she’s hoping to gain some tips on search and rescue, or other flood response procedures, at what Gov. Eliot Spitzer calls his “flooding safety summit.”

Over the last four years, nine floods in the state resulted in major federal disaster declarations, according to Spitzer. The floods cost “nearly $500 million for emergency response and repairs to public infrastructure alone,” Spitzer noted in a recent statement.

Schoharie County Board of Supervisors Chairman Earl Van Wormer hopes the meeting means “it’s time the state realized that these floods are not isolated to any specific counties.”

Van Wormer, who is not attending the conference, said he hopes Warner will bring back some advice the county can use to improve flood response and prevention.

“There’s significant damage every time these things happen,” Van Wormer said. “If there’s a way we can mitigate the effects, then it’s definitely worthwhile.”

Dam Concerned Citizens spokesman Howard Bartholomew plans to be in Binghamton in hopes of focusing some attention on the Gilboa Dam at New York City’s Schoharie Reservoir in southern Schoharie County.

“The increased frequency and intensity of flooding in the Catskills is now an established fact,” Bartholomew said Wednesday.

“DCC hopes to see [water] release works constructed at the Gilboa Dam on the Schoharie Reservoir, and improved on other dams in the west of Hudson [River] system, owned and operated by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection,” he said.

As part of a planned overall rehabilitation of the Gilboa Dam beginning next year, city officials have said they expect to incorporate a water release/flood system in the reconstructed dam.

Such release works “could and should be used to pre-emptively lower reservoir elevations to accommodate flash runoff so as to permit controlled reservoir spillage downstream,” Bartholomew said.

Not all the summit participants will actually travel to Binghamton to take part.

“They will also have a ‘webinar,’ ” according to Schenectady County spokeswoman Theresa Cassiack. Sort of an online seminar, the webinar allows participants to interact without leaving their office computers.

Webinars allow participants to type in questions, which are then read at the summit and hopefully answered, according to Cassiack.

Travel and time commitments prevented Schenectady County from sending people to Binghamton, she said. But county Deputy Director of Emergency Management Kyle Rudolphsen and Jim Gabriel, an engineer in the Schenectady County Department of Public Works, expect to participant via the webinar.

Montgomery County officials could not be reached Wednesday concerning their participation.

Anyone with appropriately equipped computers and high-speed access can watch the 8 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. conference via a webcast over the state Emergency Management Office Web site at http//

The conference is being held at the Binghamton Regency Hotel, 1 Sarbro Square.

Categories: Schenectady County

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