'There's water all over': Heavy rainfall causes damage around Jefferson County

2017-10-31 | Watertown Daily Times (N.Y.)

Oct. 31--Documents

WATERTOWN -- Andrew N. Draper realized something was wrong as he woke up at his Sherman Street home at 4 a.m. Monday.

Water had risen to chest level in the basement of his home on the 1300 block of Sherman Street, the second time in a month his basement has flooded.

Even after hours of pumping water Monday, with help from city employees, a sizeable pocket of water could be seen bubbling in the basement.

"It's not going anywhere," he said.

The first time it happened, on Oct. 9, Mr. Draper said he was forced to buy a new furnace, water heater and washer and dryer.

"It was so much water the refrigerator got knocked over," he said.

Mr. Draper, who estimated he has spent $15,000 in repairs prior to Monday, said he was writing a letter to City Council to see if the city could install a backflow prevention system on his street.

"If this is the new normal, something needs to change," he said.

Heavy rainfall and high winds closed multiple roads and flooded the basements of hundreds of Jefferson County residents. Multiple schools were also closed during the day.

Staff at the Watertown Filtration Plant said the area received 4.5 inches of rainfall from 8 a.m. Sunday to 4 p.m. Monday.

Joseph D. Plummer, Jefferson County Emergency Services Management director, said the rainfall was the worst the county has seen at one time this year.

"Everything is happening," he said. "The wind is coming, the water is building up. There's water all over."

Flooding closed roads as far south as County Route 78 in Ellisburg all the way up to Honey Flats Road in Orleans.

In Pierrepont Manor, a section of Route 193, already closed to allow an inspection of a culvert, collapsed as a result of the storm.

"It was there yesterday, and it's not today," Mr. Plummer said Monday.

In Oswego County, the town of Sandy Creek closed eight roads and announced another 15 were compromised as a result of flooding. Four roads were closed in the town of Richland.

Mr. Plummer said Jefferson County's 911 center handled about 650 calls throughout the day on Monday, a majority of them related to water issues.

In a news release, the Watertown Fire Department said it had received several calls about water getting into basements.

"We are asking those citizens who can manage their water problems to do so," the department's news release said. "If you need immediate assistance, you are directed to call 911."

Michael S. Stratton, owner of Stratton Hardware on Washington Street, said he realized the demand for supplies like sump pumps as he arrived at his store Monday morning.

"I got here at 7, people were waiting for me," he said.

Throughout the day, he said he has received multiple calls from homeowners. The next delivery of inventory is scheduled to arrive at his store this afternoon.

"It's been ringing off the hook," Mr. Stratton said.

Homes at Gillette Road and Ives Street Road could be seen completely surrounded by water, as town of Watertown crews evaluated nearby roads.

"We've run out of cones and barrels (to mark roads)," said Bruce Rohr, the town's highway superintendent.

He expressed surprise a travel advisory was not issued given the flooding concerns.

"We've never seen rain like this," he said.

The Watertown City School District closed Monday as crews dealt with as much as a foot of standing water in portions of Case Middle School. The Belleville-Henderson Central School District and Immaculate Heart Central also cancelled classes, and Sackets Harbor Central School had a two-hour delay.

"We don't want people driving through those flooded roads, and we don't want our buses impacted by it," said Belleville-Henderson Superintendent Jane A. Collins.

The New York State Zoo at Thompson Park also closed Monday due to flooding on zoo grounds. Zoo officials said their animals are safe and no exhibits were damaged.

Throughout the day, National Grid reported hundreds of customers were affected by the inclement weather.

The National Weather Service issued multiple alerts in the county, including a lakeshore flood warning until 8 p.m. today, and a flash flood warning until 8 a.m. Wednesday.