Capital Region

Capital Region slammed with rain, state of emergency leads to special ballots for first responders

Storm drains on the Union College campus that empty into the Hans Groot Kill in Schenectady are inundated because of a heavy rainstorm on Tuesday.
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Storm drains on the Union College campus that empty into the Hans Groot Kill in Schenectady are inundated because of a heavy rainstorm on Tuesday.

A state of emergency issued by Gov. Kathy Hochul Monday triggered the ability of first responders to request special ballots as early voting is already underway across the state. 

Hochul issued the state of emergency Monday for Schenectady County and several other counties as heavy rain and wind is expected to affect the Long Island, Mid-Hudson, New York City, Capital and Southern Tier regions this week. 

The declaration included Bronx, Broome, Chenango, Delaware, Greene, Kings, Montgomery, Nassau, New York, Orange, Otsego, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Schenectady, Schoharie, Suffolk, Sullivan, Tioga, Ulster, Westchester, and their contiguous counties, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“I am proactively declaring a state of emergency to ensure we can provide the necessary resources to respond to this storm and protect lives and property in regions where the forecast is calling for significant rainfall,” Hochul said. 

State agencies were directed to prepare equipment should it be needed.

Hochul urged people to exercise caution as inclement weather moved through the area.

The National Weather Service announced a flash flood watch in effect through Tuesday and had received some calls about water ponding in roadways and fields. Some small rivers also overflowed their banks, according to the agency.

“The flooding has been pretty minor for the most part,” said Brian Furgis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The worst of the storm had already passed by Tuesday, Furgis said. 

Between one and two inches of rain fell in the region Tuesday and another half-inch to an inch of additional rain is possible on Wednesday. 

The governor’s emergency declaration means first responders may request special ballots for next week’s election if they are unable to vote in person. That ballot would be treated like any other absentee ballot and would be due to the Board of Election or any polling site by the end of Election Day, according to the county Board of Elections website. 

First responders and officials kept watch as the storm moved across the region. 

For Rory Fluman, Schenectady County manager, the declaration “just opens pathways for us to get funding,” he said. The county will continue to monitor the situation, he said.

One way the county is doing that is by tracking the water levels in the Mohawk River using the various cameras that were installed along the canal. 

The river is known to flood, particularly in the historic Stockade District in the city. 

Fluman said the county’s emergency response department is in contact with city officials, the police and local fire departments. 

Union College saw flooding as water inundated the storm drains. Alexander Lane is also prone to flooding when heavy rain occurs, said Phil Wadja, the college’s spokesperson. He said flooding did not reach any buildings.

If needed, emergency operations will be set up at the county highway garage at 100 Kellar Ave. in Rotterdam. 

National Grid crews are also watching how the storm progresses, said spokesperson Patrick Stella. 

“We have crews that are available,” he said. 

The biggest detriments to National Grid’s operations are wind and ice, Stella said, adding that rain becomes a problem when trees topple onto a power line because of over-saturated soil. 

He said National Grid will also get involved when there is flooding that results in the company having to shut off a gas or electric line. 

Categories: News

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