Phoenicia on edge of second flood last week
By Jay Braman Jr.
It was the sound of emergency sirens, not school busses, that woke people up early last Wednesday morning in Phoenicia, where residents were informed that a repeat performance of last week’s flooding was on the way.
Heavy rain had returned to the region, causing the Onteora Central School District to close for what was supposed to be the first two days of school.
Emergency service people began knocking on doors in low lying areas of the hamlet before dawn Wednesday, urging residents to seek higher ground until it was clear how bad things might get. Similar action was taken in the Oliverea area, where Shandaken Highway Superintendent Eric Hofmeister said it looked like it could get bad.
“We couldn’t even get up into McKinley Hollow to see how things are,” he said Wednesday morning, while keeping a watch on Stony Clove Creek, the culprit that caused much havoc to Phoenicia’s Main Street.
One block downstream, Jay Street resident Ed Ryder stood in his driveway as the water began licking at the tips of his workboots.
“I can’t believe it’s coming back,” he said, before returning to the clean up efforts he began over a week ago once tropical storm Irene departed.
Ryder, whose house was destroyed several years ago by another flood, rebuilt on the same spot, only this time with a massive 10-foot tall foundation under his home. That foundation, he said, kept his family high and dry, but ruined his property and the classic cars he had in his garage.
“Irene just busted the garage door down,” he said.
As the water continued to rise, unconfirmed reports came in that the Route 28 bridge at Mount Tremper, had been closed, causing traffic to flow along what is known as the Old Plank Road, a three-mile stretch of roadway that has its own issues.
“Water there comes up quick,” Hofmeister said, while taking another glance at the Stony Clove.
The highway superintendent worried that the flooding last week could damage much of the repair work that has been done on roads throughout Shandaken just one week prior, but, there was no way of knowing.
“We just have to wait until the water level goes down,” he said.
Another thing that must wait is the race against time dredging project right behind Hofmeister in the Stony Clove. Much of the work has been done, but crews had not yet been able to get under the Main Street Bridge to scoop out the stone and gravel that was piled to within only four feet of the bridge’s undercarriage. That work was scheduled for last Wednesday. But the water came up too fast and the job was abandoned.
It was hoped the work could get done before that day’s high water.
“Who knows, maybe the stream will get rid if it all by itself,” he added.
When the water did subside, Supervisor Rob Stanley said there was more damage.
“Waters have receded, but at a slow rate. We did lose temporary infrastructure on Oliverea Road,
McKinley Hollow, Little Peck Hollow with additional damage to Burnham Hollow,” he said.