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Digging Out

Flash flooding devastated the town of Fort Plain, and still the rain keeps coming

by E.S. Cormac on July 10, 2013 · 2 comments


Almost two weeks after a flash flood on June 27, Fort Plain residents and work crews continue to dig themselves out from the destruction caused when water from the Otsquago Creek rushed through town, damaging buildings and property. One resident, Ethel Healy, died after flood water swept her home away.

photo by E.S. Cormac

Gov.Andrew Cuomo declared Fort Plain and other flood-damaged towns a disaster area. The New York Army National Guard was deployed to the area and used heavy equipment to remove debris. The state continues to wait for a decision from the federal government to decision to release funding to the worst hit areas.

Residents of Fort Plain, which is in Montgomery County west of Amsterdam, used their town churches as centers for coordination and distribution.

“Churches aren’t waiting for the government,” said Erica Beam, who coordinated the distribution of cleaning supplies from the Fort Plain Methodist Church. Her staff of volunteers offered free meals to residents and other volunteer workers. The church also distributed hygiene products to those in need.

“Our biggest fear is some people will become homeless—so many homes are condemned,” said Heather Rockwell, one of many volunteers based at the Fort Plain Reformed Church. The church acted as the headquarters to send volunteer workers to places that needed them most.

“As hard as it has been, the volunteers have been wonderful,” Cathy Burt said. Burt joined her sister, Liz Babcock, at the Hotel Fort Plain on Main Street—a business their family has owned since 1927. The two women and their husbands removed yards of muck from the property with the help of many volunteers, according to Burt.

“Volunteer help has been amazing,” agreed Lori McVeigh, who also helped to coordinate volunteers from the Reformed Church. Many people came from surrounding towns to give support, including members of the nearby Amish community.

Thunderstorms like the one that caused the flash flood continue to plague the Capital Region this week. The National Weather Service has issued flood watches for many counties, and these warnings include many of the communities damaged in earlier storms.

The American Red Cross of Northeastern New York is coordinating donations for Fort Plain and other hard-hit communities. Donations can be sent to www.redcross.org, (800) REDCROSS, and by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Checks can also be sent to the American Red Cross of Northeastern New York at 33 Everett Road, Albany NY 12205.

Photos from Fort Plain all by E.S. Cormac
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