The Capital Region, unlike the Adirondacks, didn’t get enough flooding this spring to earn a federal disaster declaration from President Obama.
For once in its life, the Mohawk River wasn’t much of a problem, in the Stockade or anywhere else.
But the Hudson, primary channel for all that mountain rain and the overflow of flooded Great Sacandaga Lake, did some glancing damage in Saratoga County in May. Not enough to qualify the county for disaster aid, though.
But some private property took a pounding, and there was some significant inconvenience. As of now, private losses — along with washed out roads and bridges — aren’t eligible for federal aid.
Some homes close to the mighty river saw water rise to their first floors. The Stillwater village library lost its basement furnace. Fort Hardy Park in Schuylerville was submerged for weeks, though the long-term damage was mostly limited to spring baseball schedules.
“There was erosion and washing away of soil on Schuyler Island,” said Saratoga Town Supervisor Tom Wood. “We were fortunate in Schuylerville. It could have been a lot worse.”
Rising water came within a foot of the Saratoga town visitors’ and youth centers near Fort Hardy Park, Wood said. The Route 29 bridge was closed on a key weekend when a spring antiques fair was being held across the river at the Washington County fairgrounds, though hard-core antiquers were undeterred.
But the damage and inconvenience wasn’t limited to the low-lying parts of Schuylerville.
Downstream, Stillwater Town Supervisor Ed Kinowski said he was aware of about a dozen instances of damage to personal property, with half those instances being what Kinowski characterized as “severe.”
The Stillwater Library, as mentioned earlier, lost its furnace to the high waters. On Ferry Lane, residents found water views out their backyards, which isn’t where they’re supposed to be.
Kinowski estimated the total damage to private property in his town at about $20,000. In addition, the town highway department had to make about $15,000 in repairs to a front-end loader that was driven through high water, damaging its brake system.
Unfortunately for the locals, those numbers aren’t high enough to qualify for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Frankly, FEMA has some bigger problems to deal with, given the number of weather disasters across the country this spring. The Hudson’s mighty, but she isn’t the Mississippi.
The flooding exposed gaps in what emergency officials know about the river, and when they know it.
County Emergency Services Director Paul Lent said there’s a major gap in the National Weather Service’s river monitoring system — there are no river-flow gauges between Fort Edward and Waterford, a 40-mile stretch.
“There’s a lot of infrastructure between those two gauges that really needs to have more information,” Lent said. “It certainly would give us better information more quickly.”
He said he’ll be taking the matter up with the National Weather Service.