WNYT.com

Rotterdam Junction residents think more should be done to prevent flooding

Posted at: 10/26/2012 6:17 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

ROTTERDAM JUNCTION - Anxious residents in Rotterdam Junction worry the current efforts doesn't solve the problem that contributed to record flooding last year and could reoccur.

Residents of many communities along the Erie Canal/Mohawk River system suspect last year's flooding would have been reduced if aggressive steps had been taken to lower the water level in the days before the storm hit.

Canal officials seem to have received the message, but only to an extent.

At Lock 9 of the Erie Canal in Rotterdam Junction today one of the 16 upper gates was pulled up. That allowed some water to move through the dam.

“We indicated in our notice to mariners and our trans alerts that we're going down to a minimum navigational level. That will mean less water in the system and we're going to assess the situation when we get to that,” said Stratton

It's sort of like cracking a bedroom window on a cold night. You'll get a little fresh air coming in, or in this case water flowing to a lower level, but far, far less than if all the upper gates and lower gates were pulled up. Then the water would be going down rapidly.

As Director Stratton confirmed, they're maintaining a minimum water level so the occasional boat, often from some other area can enjoy the facility.

But there's another reason just one out of 30 some gates are pulled up. When canal workers were trying to make the change yesterday, their generator caught on fire.

“They are still maintaining enough so that boats can go through. Does that make you apprehensive? Yes it does. If the gates are not up and then they're going to compromiser everything around them and we're liable to have the same situation as we had last September,” said Tony Civitello

Late Friday afternoon the governor's office said the canal corporation was working to clear boats from the area between fort plain and Schenectady and would lower the water level three to five feet Saturday.

It did not say that the canal would close or that all the gates would be put in the winter position for now.

The news release said that was possible, starting Sunday, if the storm's track seems to indicate that would be needed