By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY April 8, 2005 Take Septembers once-in-a-lifetime flood that swept through Sullivan County. Now double the impact.
Thats what town supervisors and highway superintendents were saying this week as they started to get a handle on the toll last weekends storm really took on the county.
Town of Rockland Highway Superintendent Bowman Owen was at a loss for words.
Basically, he said, its worse ...
The problem is, a lot of the work we had to do because of the September flood we didnt get finished, Owen said, which may be a good thing, it may not be.
I dont know how FEMAs going to treat this.
There were spots where Owens crews had replaced pavement washed away by the waters dropped during Hurricane Ivans reign over Sullivan County.
Saturday night those expanses of blacktop just up and washed away while roadways that were already structurally compromised, spots that the crews hadnt gotten to before winter set in, survived the night.
To Owen, it was amazing.
Its just mind-boggling to see how much damage can happen in such a short period of time, he said.
By Tuesday afternoon, Owen had a list of 19 different sites in town that need serious and immediate attention.
That will cost a minimum of $800,000, he said.
And the damages to private homes and businesses are even higher.
The Roscoe Free Library sustained so much damage that it has closed its doors, asking patrons to keep their books at home because theres simply no dry place to store them.
The library will remain closed while we assess losses, and clean, dry, and repair the building, said Library Director Joyce Goff in a statement released yesterday. Many thanks to the great people of the Roscoe community who stopped by and volunteered their services so generously and quickly during the emergency."
In the Town of Lumberland, Supervisor John LiGreci has been asking citizens to hold off on sending damage assessments to his office just until the town can get a handle on its own problems.
LiGreci estimated $1.4 million inland in damages to town roads and bridges.
Five major roads are completely gone, along with five small bridges.
What happened in September is nothing compared to this, he said. I have five major roads that have literally collapsed.
I need to get help here or the schools going to be closed for a month, LiGreci said Tuesday (although Eldred Central School District credited LiGreci and other officials in helping to get the school open Wednesday morning).
The problem started inland in Lumberland, LiGreci said. The hard rain pounded down, and the saturated ground couldnt absorb it.
So the water started hydroplaning its way toward the Delaware River, leaving destruction in its wake.
The water went at such velocity, it tore roads up in the process, LiGreci explained. You can actually see veins going through the roads where the water was running.
Route 97 remained closed between Pond Eddy and the Orange County line through Tuesday, and Mohegan Lake, Hollow, High, White, Leers, Schwab and Decker roads were all nearly impassable, if not completely destroyed in certain spots.
In the Town of Delaware, one of the municipalities that suffered damage not only to its roads but to its own highway headquarters, the numbers arent in yet.
Deputy Highway Superintendent Mike Eschenberg said theyve estimated $250,000 in damage to streets, including Sickmiller, Winkelstern, River and Viaduct roads.
But we dont know the extent yet to our buildings and the sewer system, Eschenberg said.
The towns sewage treatment plant in Callicoon was one of many downtown buildings affected when the Delaware River quickly rose up over its banks cresting several feet above its September flood stage.
And water from Joe Brook and Callicoon Creek once again ran right through the towns highway barn.
Private damage was also extensive in Delaware, hitting not just homes but the Delaware Youth Center in Callicoon, which will be closed indefinitely due to damage.
Although Grover Hermann Hall escaped unscathed and will still be available for party rentals, the centers board of directors has asked people to stay off the grounds until further notice.
In the Town of Cochecton, where the state highway department has kept Route 97 closed because of rock slides, theres still at least one town road closed to through traffic.
Supervisor Sal Indelicato said the highway department has replaced culverts on Buff Road (located between Lake Huntington and Cochecton Center) twice already.
Highway Superintendent Brian DuBois made the tough decision to delay work on Buff Road with the forecast for more rain if theyre replacing culverts for a third time, they hope it will be the last.
In total, Indelicato said damage to the towns system will probably hit the $200,000 mark.
The number was slightly higher in the Town of Tusten, one of the few towns to fare better over the weekend than it did in September.
Supervisor Ben Johnson said his town is looking at roughly $300,000 in damages.
In saying we did better, its still going to hurt, Johnson noted. Were still falling far behind because of Septembers incident. . . its like a double whammy.
Damage was sustained on a number of roads, including Ten Mile River A and Ten Mile River, Perry Pond, Swamp Pond and Crawford Road.
In talking with residents, Johnson said there were flooded basements, but the waters didnt spread quite as far as they had in September.