Flood-stricken Fort Plain braces for more torrential rain

Posted at: 07/01/2013 2:01 AM
Updated at: 07/01/2013 9:39 AM
By: Steve Flamisch

FORT PLAIN -- With heavy rain possible Monday and Tuesday, the Montgomery County Highway Division was working to deepen and widen the Otsquago Creek in the hope of preventing another flash flood.

The workers were using bulldozers and excavators to remove debris from the creek near Abbott St., a highway supervisor said. The work began Friday afternoon and continued all weekend.

"They're taking the debris -- the rocks and everything -- out of the middle, putting it along the sides of the bank to sure up the banks so we don't have any more erosion," Shawn Cotton told NewsChannel 13.

The creek demolished its banks and flooded the village Friday morning, damaging or destroying about 70 buildings, officials said.

Ethel Healey, 86, of Abbot St., was still missing and presumed dead, officials said. Neighbors told police they saw the floodwaters wash away her mobile home. Searchers were slated to look for Healey in a debris field on the Mohawk River, near the Canajoharie lock, starting Monday.

Healey's longtime friend, Pam Kuntcsch, lost everything in her basement on nearby Reid St.. Worn out and still without power, Kuntcsch said she was fearful of more rain.

"I'm nervous, upset," she said, "but not much more can be ruined."

Canal St. in the heart of the village was slowly returning to normal, with fewer debris piles on the sidewalk. Much of the mud that covered floors, sidewalks, and the street itself is now gone.

Rick Sager, the county's deputy director of emergency management, said he is hoping the anticipated rainfall does not undo the progress.

"It's exasperating and it's pretty trying," Sager said. "You always seem to be just getting two steps ahead, and now torrential downpours may take us three steps backward. But we'll fight through it." 

FEMA teams were scheduled to arrive in the village Monday.