The Normans Kill, dammed after an earthen slope collapsed sometime Sunday night or Monday morning, began to flow again around midnight, according to Albany police.
Crews from multiple public and private agencies launched a massive mediation efforts to forestall flooding Monday after flow to the creek was stopped to a trickle. The flood danger extended as far away as Guilderland.
Crews were using piping to pump water, while also digging a channel to divert the creek and keep the waterway flowing.
Officials will be updating the media at 10 a.m.
An Albany police officer first detected evidence of the landslide, which occurred Monday behind the Normanside Country Club in Bethlehem, around 7 a.m., when he noticed the flow of the creek had slowed to a trickle.
By late Monday afternoon officials were piping water over the earthen dam, while heavy equipment was brought to the scene via the Capital Hills at Albany golf course to dig a trench to get water flowing ahead of expected heavy rains Monday night.
“It, in essence, shut the creek down,” Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said Monday. “It created a natural dam.”
The state of emergency was declared at 12:30 Monday afternoon.
Officials said the collapse spans 300 feet. They could not estimate the tons of rock, clay, soil and debris such as trees that is impeding the flow of water. The cause has not been determined, but officials want to examine whether grading work being done at Normanside near the landslide played a role. Grading work was being done recently at the Bethlehem golf course near its 18th hole.
“Whether there was a connection or not, I do not know at this point,” Bethlehem Supervisor John Clarkson said, noting the work was permitted. “It was kind of in that area. Whether there was a connection or not, I do not know at this point.
“But it was such a huge landslide, it was such a large area, it wasn’t limited to that area,” he added.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said crews deployed two 12-inch pipes to pump water while other crews were working to dig trenches to divert the water flow. “We are starting to move earth,” he said after 5 p.m. He said it would take “months” before the situation would return to normal.
As of later afternoon officials said the situation was under control in terms of flooding, but they were prepared to notify residents in low-lying areas if flooding occurred. Heavy rain was forecast for Monday night.
“It looks like we will be able to stay ahead of the water and avoid the flooding,” Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said Monday afternoon.
Although the landslide occurred in Bethlehem, the base of operations for remedying the landslide is Capital Hills, which is across the creek from the Normanside golf course.
“This was a significant failure on the Bethlehem side, but we are working together,” Sheehan said. “It’s easier to get at it from our side.”
The Albany golf course was slated to open Wednesday. That opening may be delayed, in part because of potential damage caused by the heavy equipment getting to the site by the 6th hole.
McCoy said he expects more of the slope to come crashing down into the creek. “There are two more cracks over there,” he said. “It’s certainly not over.”
The area has been the scene of previous landslides, most notable on May 16, 2000, when a massive slide destroyed one business and did significant damage to another and Delaware Avenue (Route 443). Heavy rains increased the current and water levels, leading to that landslide.
That slope collapse prompted the closure of Delaware Avenue, a major artery, for three months. No one was injured in the landslide. The road only partially reopened at first, as the $9.3 million total project that included rerouting a section of the Normans Kill took months to complete.
“This whole area is prone and has issues,” Sheehan said Monday.