Flood Watch: Canal Corporation lowers water level ahead of rainfall

Posted at: 06/27/2013 8:14 PM
Updated at: 06/27/2013 8:18 PM
By: Steve Flamisch

ALBANY -- With many of the Capital Region's waterways already near flood stage from a month of above-average rainfall, and up to two inches of additional rainfall expected in the next 24 hours, the state Canal Corporation on Thursday took steps to prevent flooding along the Mohawk River.

The Canal Corporation postponed Friday's scheduled re-opening of the Erie Canal between Scotia and Fort Plain, and removed the upper gates of movable dams along that stretch in the hope of dropping the water level before the rain begins.

Boater Andre LaChappelle was hoping to leave Waterford in the morning on his way back to Montreal. Instead, he and his wife Sabine are preparing for a longer stay.

"They're really concerned about all the boaters," LaChappelle said. "If it becomes dangerous for the people that are (moored along) the wall, they would open the lower lock so we could be in the upper basin, which is safer for boaters."

The Mohawk River in Utica was already at flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. The Hudson River in Troy was projected to reach flood stage Friday evening. The Schoharie Creek in Gilboa and Prattsville was not projected to reach flood stage.

In Schenectady's Stockade section, Scott Andrus was keeping a close eye on the level of the Mohawk River. Tropical Storm Irene flooded his Washington Ave. basement with six feet of water in 2011.

Since then, the Canal Corporation has done a better job of reducing the water level in anticipation of heavy rainfall, Andrus said.

"The people of the state government are on the ball with this and they are keeping an eye on it," he said. "(They) are doing the best they can to keep the level of the water down, and to make sure that we don't have a repeat of that."

The American Red Cross of Northeastern New York has told its more than 500 volunteers to be on stand-by throughout the weekend in the event of flooding, Emergency Services Director Tim Bachman said.

"(We're) just making sure that everybody has a heightened state of alert in case something happens, that we can respond quickly to meet the needs," Bachman said.

The Red Cross is prepared to open emergency shelters if any areas need to be evacuated, Bachman said. Except for service animals, pets are not permitted in shelters.

People in flood-prone areas were encouraged to arrange for family or friends on higher ground to accommodate pets. The Red Cross also works with local animal shelters to house them, Bachman said.

For the latest water level readings and flood stage updates, go to: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/forecasts.php?wfo=aly