State and county officials continued Monday tallying the destruction caused by a series of severe thunderstorms that pummeled the western towns last week, but were unsure if the level of damage will trigger federal assistance.
Runoff from heavy rains Sunday continued to scour road shoulders and bridge footings, as highway crews worked to repair the damage from the initial round of storms. Emergency Management Director Bill Van Hoesen said the latest storm damage had further eroded the already weakened road shoulders in many areas, but only six roads remained closed across Schenectady County.
“We’ve had more damage,” he said Monday. “Our concern is that we have damage in the shoulder areas of a lot of roads.”
The swollen Sandsea Kill scoured the base of a bridge carrying Muselbeck Road in Pattersonville. Van Hoesen said county crews are attempting to stabilize the bridge footings before another storm causes more damage to the bridge.
Van Hoesen said the shoulders along Crawford Road also sustained more damage over the weekend. County workers closed the road on Thursday to excavate an aging culvert damaged during last week’s storms.
Rotterdam Deputy Supervisor Joe Signore said about a half-dozen residents were unable to reach their homes at the height of the storm. He said cost estimates for damage on town-owned roads are still being determined.
County workers are also trying to save a culvert running beneath Old Route 30 on the board of Duanesburg and Esperance in Schoharie County. The culvert became clogged during the most severe storms last week, causing a Schoharie Creek tributary to sweep away a large swath of road surface.
“We’re assessing it from day to day,” Van Hoesen said of the damage to county roads. “If you’re driving anywhere in the western part of the county use caution.”
So far, he said, Schenectady County has sustained far more damage than the $460,000 threshold needed to qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Last week, county Public Works Director Joe Ryan estimated the county’s thoroughfares had more than $2 million in damages.
“Between [the damage on] Old Route 30 and Muselbeck Road, we’re probably up there,” Van Hoesen said.
However, it is unclear if the damage across the state had risen to the $23 million threshold for eligibility for federal aid. Spokesman Dennis Michalski said state Emergency Management Office staff are trying to get a handle on the destruction caused by the storms in an area spanning seven counties.
“We’re just into the initial process,” he said. “Right now, the damage assessments are continuing out in the field.”
Michalski said SEMO will also assess the meteorological data from storm that struck the region over the past five days. He said there is a chance the damage caused by the storms will be grouped together.
Meanwhile, the severe thunderstorms that soaked the area last week don’t appear to be letting up. The National Weather Service in Albany reported a chance of thunderstorms on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.
State Department of Transportation spokesman Pete Van Keuren was unsure how much the state response to the flooding would cost. He said the agency is still awaiting a the total cost of emergency contract work prompted by the damage.
State crews closed down Route 160 again on Sunday after a malfunctioning underground drainage pipe caused flooding near the Thruway overpass. Runoff cascaded down the road, causing nearly a half foot of debris to collect on the surface and in nearby yards.
“They got hit hard again over the weekend,” he said.
In Princetown, Supervisor Nick Maura Jr. said most of the damage was done to county roads. He said choked culverts caused a washout of the county-owned Kelly Station Road near the Willow Run intersection.
“When it rains like that, you can expect almost anything,” he said.
Duanesburg Supervisor Rene Merrihew is awaiting a report from the highway superintendent on damage sustained by the town’s roads. She said a runoff eroded a corner of the foundation at private residence on Eaton Corners Road, causing extensive damage to the house’s basement.
“It’s a mess,” she said.