Montgomery County

Meeting to discuss flood plans in Mohawk Valley

The Schoharie Creek rolls through Fort Hunter before entering the Mohawk River, just a stone’s throw

The Schoharie Creek rolls through Fort Hunter before entering the Mohawk River, just a stone’s throw from the Fort Hunter firehouse.

When the river floods, the Amtrak station in Amsterdam goes underwater — as do the tracks that carry freight and people.

As many witnessed during the throes of tropical storms Irene and Lee, officials shut down bridges over the Mohawk River, leaving people on the city’s South Side cut off from medical services to the north.

Those heading to St. Mary’s Hospital on the north side of the river in Amsterdam are heading to a “high-risk” flood zone within the river’s reach. The nearest other medical services are in other counties.

More than two years after the storms’ devastation, residents in the town and city of Amsterdam and the town of Florida will get a chance to see what local governments plan to do about it.

The local committee focused on both towns and the city is holding a meeting today where residents can learn about projects aimed both at protecting communities from severe weather and boosting the vitality of these communities still piecing things back together from the flooding.

“I think the understanding is the last one wasn’t the last one,” said Mark Kilmer, director of the Fulton-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the local NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program committee.

Today’s meeting takes place as the planning process nears the end, but Kilmer said it’s unclear yet if another meeting will take place.

A critical part of the process, Kilmer said, is demonstrating to state and federal leaders that residents in these communities are taking part in the planning.

“We need the participation, we need the involvement,” Kilmer said.

One of the earlier planning meetings drew numerous residents. It was held in Fort Hunter, one of the town of Florida hamlets that sustained severe damage in the 2011 floods. Lost Valley was the other.

Committee member and Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said she’s optimistic about the two-part goals contained in the regional plan. One of them includes moving the Amtrak station from the city’s western edge closer to downtown.

Doing so would not only help protect the train station, but would also bolster efforts to improve the city’s downtown economy.

“It would protect the train station basically, but it would also help with revitalization,” Thane said.

The planning meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon today at the Creative Connections Arts Center, 303 E. Main St., Amsterdam.

Reach Gazette reporter Edward Munger Jr. at 843-2856 or [email protected]

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