Montgomery County supervisors this week accepted a $605,000 bid from the Gloversville-based Delaney Group for a massive cleanup project under the bridge spanning the Schoharie Creek in the hamlet of Burtonsville.
Rainfall from Hurricane Irene and then Tropical Storm Lee turned the creek into a torrent that destroyed homes, uprooted trees and left tons of boulders and debris blocking a side channel there. If the blockage is left unattended, Charleston town Supervisor Shayne Walters said, residents along Priddle Road just south in Schoharie County could suffer even more damage in the event of another flood or ice jams in the spring.
“They’re going to relieve the flow in the creek in the narrowest spot so it can get into the overflow. It puts the channel back where it belongs,” Walters said of the proposal.
The job will entail moving tons of stone out of the creek’s path. The boulders will be positioned on the sides of the creek to act like rip-rap and hold the banks in place. The contractors will also remove numerous trees and limbs that litter the shores and sit on top of the mounds of debris deposited by the creek.
Aside from causing damage to the movable dam structures on the Mohawk River — part of the lock system — Walters suspects the trees and other debris washed into the river contributed to flooding in Montgomery County; the water couldn’t move through the clogged dams and instead went around them.
There’s more debris, he said, just waiting to take another shot at that infrastructure.
“We have 10 times that amount of debris there now. If you don’t clean that out, it’s going to back that water out and cause major flooding south of us,” he said.
“It floods every year, but this time we’ve got a channel plugged up and there’s trees all over the place. If you do something then we have a fair chance against Mother Nature,” Walters said.
Pending federal approval, the contract will stipulate the work be completed in 75 days. Walters said it’s likely agreements will have to be sought from property owners in the hamlet so the contractors can create a staging area to get heavy equipment into the creek.
The project itself is deemed emergency repair, so other damage caused by the creek won’t be addressed immediately. The state Department of Environmental Conservation’s fishing access site that’s really not there anymore won’t be fixed right away, nor will work that’s needed on the bridge abutments, Walters said.
It’s unclear yet whether a concerted effort will take place in the Priddle Road neighborhood a few miles to the south, but officials from the state and federal emergency management agencies toured the site this week, according to Walters and Esperance town Supervisor Earl Van Wormer III.
The creek rushed through the neighborhood that includes Memory Lane, taking roughly 20 homes with it and leaving portions of the structures crushed up against trees. The debris, which includes downed utility poles, wires, equipment and residents’ possessions, litters the neighborhood four weeks after the storms blew through.
Van Wormer said officials conducted a meeting Wednesday to cover post-disaster public assistance projects and he learned the town’s only option may be to bond for repairs and cleanup and seek reimbursement from the state and federal government. It’s unclear how long it would take for that reimbursement to come, he said.
Road damage in Esperance alone is estimated at $750,000 — and the town operates with an annual budget of roughly $500,000. That doesn’t include what it would take to clean up Priddle Road and make it look like a neighborhood again — that work could exceed a million dollars, Van Wormer said.
“We could borrow the money to help the people out and then raise their taxes because I don’t have enough money to pay for it. Raise taxes on people who don’t even have property,” Van Wormer said of the flood victims.
He said he’s trying to get Schoharie County to provide some heavy equipment that might be able to get the work done.
“I’m not going to stop until I get it resolved,” Van Wormer said.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Schenectady County