Schenectady County

In Rotterdam Junction, some return to routine after flood

Normalcy — of a sort — is returning to Rotterdam Junction, the tiny hamlet recently devastated by fl

Normalcy — of a sort — is returning to Rotterdam Junction, the tiny hamlet recently devastated by flooding.

The Red Cross on Tuesday turned over issuance of emergency supplies to the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department, while the Salvation Army stopped providing meals to residents there. Restaurants and volunteers have stepped in to take care of these functions.

National Grid has restored electricity to homes and expects to restore natural gas connections to approximately 430 customers in the area by late today . They lost their gas connection when flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee damaged the Route 103 bridge, which carries the gas line serving Rotterdam Junction.

All our photos

From the farms of Schoharie County to the streets of the Stockade, our photographers captured the flooding in dozens of photos you can see by clicking HERE

National Grid will be shipping in gas by truck and connecting the truck to the gas line on the south side of the river. It will leave the truck there until it is empty, then swap it out for a full one, and continuing this arrangement until it can establish a new line under the Mohawk River to serve the area.

The town has removed most of the major debris stripped out of water-logged homes and placed on curbs. It, in fact, canceled a road closure advisory for Route 5S that was to take effect today, to help facilitate debris removal.

Schenectady County will put its emergency operations van, which it placed at the firehouse shortly after Tropical Storm Irene struck the area, back into storage.

And the Fire Department — which served as a relief and information center for residents during the crisis — is starting to demobilize operations.

“We’re starting it today,” Shawn Taylor, chief of the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department said Tuesday. “We are slowing it down.”

At the height of the crisis, most of the hamlet’s 400-plus residents came to the fire station nightly for a meal and information, such as how to apply for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They also took advantage of hot showers and a chance to talk with and check up on friends and neighbors.

The fire station is now seeing about 75 people nightly, with numbers dropping daily, as people return to their homes or find other living arrangements, Taylor said. “People are back into their homes, eating their own food,” he said.

By Sunday, the fire station will be back to operating as a fire station, Taylor said, but “we will continue to handle the worst cases here.”

Taylor said he did not know the number of residents remaining in Rotterdam Junction. “Once the mandatory evacuation order was lifted, it is hard to keep track of them,” he said.

Many homes remain empty and some remain uninhabitable — so damaged by flooding it is unsafe for people to return. Whether these houses are ever restored is a guess, Taylor said. He said some residents will likely walk away from their homes, being unable to afford full repairs. Most Junction residents do not have flood insurance, and regular insurance will not cover the damage.

FEMA has been providing financial assistance to residents, but the level of assistance is not enough to fully restore a home to what it was before the flood damage, officials said. Taylor said FEMA payments range between $12,000 and $25,000, while damage to many homes far exceeds these payouts.

How to help

There are many ways to help the people, schools and organizations hurt by the floods. Here are some links and ideas:

Frances Galarneau, 77, a widow who lives at 1335 Main St., said FEMA gave her $2,500 to purchase a furnace. She said she can’t find a furnace for that price and can’t afford to buy a new one.

She has no flood insurance and limited financial resources. She is currently living with her sister in the town of Florida, but said she does not want to make this arrangement permanent.

“I want to stay here. This is my home,” she said of her Rotterdam Junction residence.

The flood poured about 4 feet of water into the finished basement of her raised ranch home. She lost everything in the basement, including 45 years worth of photos. Her nephew and niece, and her niece’s baby, were living in the basement, and they lost everything as well. FEMA is not covering their losses.

“My husband and I built this house 45 years ago. We thought this was a nice place to live, and it was until a couple of weeks ago,” Galarneau said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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