Shelly Montanye’s mother survived the flood of 2006.
Montanye remembers her mother, who lives by the Mohawk River in Fort Plain, describing it as a “tsunami coming down the street.”
She thought her mother was exaggerating, but when water came rushing Friday afternoon down Argersinger Road in the town of Root, forcing the evacuation of Mantonye’s home and four other on the street, she said she learned otherwise.
“That’s exactly what it was when it came down here,” said Montanye, who was home with her husband and three kids when the flood waters first approached about 4:30 p.m. “It was like a tidal wave just sweeping down the street.”
Friday’s flood came a little less than a year after flooding decimated Fort Plain and western Montgomery County, leaving an elderly woman dead and scores of buildings destroyed or heavily damaged. Fort Plain was spared Friday’s flood, which was unusual in that it wasn’t the result of the Mohawk River overflowing. Instead, after a week of steady rainfall, the ground was saturated and Friday’s downpours caused excessive runoff that flooded small creeks, streams, highways, underpasses, country roads and farmland near creeks.
Jeffery Smith, Montgomery County’s emergency management director, said the wet ground could lead to more flooding if it were to rain again. But it hadn’t rained since 12:45 a.m. Saturday, he said, so the ground was starting to dry.
Montgomery County remained under a state of emergency Saturday, as county public works crews worked to assess damage and repair culverts and ditches.
A second round of storms coming in from the southwest nearly made matters worse Friday night, Smith said.
“When it got to the county, it lightened up, and the heaviest rain went a little north of our county, which really saved us,” he said.
Due to high waters, the state Canal Corp. closed the Erie Canal system to boaters Saturday morning from Lock 7 in Niskayuna to Lock E22 in Sylvan Beach, Oneida County.
“Once conditions permit safe navigation, we’ll reopen,” said Shane Mahar, a Canal Corp. spokesman. “It’s swift-moving water, there can be debris and some of the navigation aids might be slightly off station.”
Also Saturday, residents of the five houses evacuated along Argersinger Road were allowed to return. The Montanyes never left, however, because there was no way out, Shelly Montanye said. They moved their cars down the road and walked back through the muck.
“They shut off [Route] 5S, Currytown [Road] was flooded, Anderson [Road was] flooded,” she said. “We were basically kind of stuck.”
If it weren’t for neighbors yelling through their screen door that the waters were rising, the family’s car, SUV and pickup truck may have been wrecked, she said. Water flooded the house’s crawl space, soaking through the bottom of the living room floor, entered a garage and nearly swallowed a full-sized trampoline in the front yard as it rose to about waist level.
“By the time I backed the car out, the water was already in the driveway and I was driving through it,” said Montanye’s daughter, Mackenzie, 18. “It wasn’t water. It was like muck.”
And it contained fecal matter from nearby farms, she said.
On nearby Currytown Road, lumber floated in a pool of water behind the homes of Kristy Klim and Jen Greco, who sat on Greco’s porch drinking martinis. The lumber was from a pile of debris being maintained by a neighbor on the opposite side of a small creek that overflowed Friday.
“For some reason, he’s got some kind of dump down there, and now it’s all in my yard,” Greco said Saturday.
Most of the water that surrounded the homes the day before had receded, but the pool of water remained in their low-lying backyards.
“We’re just pumping it out of the houses, and there’s nowhere for it to go, so it’s just staying in the lawns,” Greco said.
Klim said “frustration” didn’t quite describe what she was feeling after having dealt with floods before.
“I think devastated is the word,” she said. “We just replaced everything in our basement from the last flood in 2011, and now we’re currently redoing it again.”
Friday’s flood left Klim’s house without power, as water got into the basement and ruined the electrical panel, along with the furnace, hot water heater, water softener, fuel tank and duct work. This was the third time in about eight years her home has been flooded. Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 forced her, her husband and their three children out of the home for four months, and the family was also displaced by flooding in 2006.
“It’s pretty devastating in this area. I swear we have monsoon season,” Klim said. “And do you know what really sucks, to be honest with you? This is not a flood zone, so we are not offered flood insurance, nor can we get flood insurance for our houses.”
For the Montanyes, the siding and insulation on one side of the house needs replacing to avoid mold, as does the living room floor. In the driveway, an open trailer was filled with items from the garage that were soaked by the flood.
As she reflected on the hectic events of the previous day, Shelly Montanye admitted she never used to be superstitious.
“I am now,” she said. “I’m gonna shake now every time a Friday the 13th comes up.”