By Jeanne Sager
SULLIVAN COUNTY June 30, 2006 The sun is shining, but Sullivan County is still in a state of emergency.
As residents of dozens of county hamlets woke up to total destruction, County Legislature Chairman Chris Cunningham declared a state of emergency Wednesday morning.
The flooding has left the county in worse shape than ever before, according to highway superintendents across the county.
What gives us the impression that its alright is the sun is shining, Town of Fallsburg Commissioner of Public Works Howard Conklin said.
But even in Fallsburg where an evacuation of Foxcroft Village was done as a precaution, though the major damage was limited to the spots just along the Neversink River the devastation was worse than any Conklin had ever seen.
In a statement issued by Sullivan County Public Safety Commissioner Dick Martinkovic, the storm was called the worst flooding incident in county history.
Shelters were set up in at least six separate sites in the county from Monticello to Eldred, Lake Huntington to Livingston Manor.
The Red Cross served 450 children and 150 adults at the Eldred Junior/Senior High School, mostly evacuees from a Jewish camp located right near the Delaware River in the Town of Lumberland.
At its highest level, the river was off the United States Geological Surveys (USGS) water gauge in Barryville at 17 feet, the river was at flood stage.
A recording taken at 10 p.m. on Wednesday showed the river had reached 27.23 feet at Barryville.
The highest peak on record was set in August 1955 when Hurricane Diane drenched the river valley and boosted the waters to 26.4 feet.
The river was off the charts in Callicoon, where evacuations also took place.
At flood stage at 12 feet, the USGS recorded a level of more than 20 feet in Callicoon Wednesday afternoon. Thats well above the record for Callicoon of 17.85 feet, set during last years flood.
The river breached its banks everywhere it touches in Sullivan County, leaving damage in Long Eddy, Hankins, Cochecton, Narrowsburg and down the line.
Residents in many of those hamlets were rescued and taken to spots across the county.
Other local shelters included the Sullivan West High School in Lake Huntington, where more than 30 Jeffersonville-area residents sought shelter as the village was evacuated. That shelter was closed by noon on Wednesday as residents were allowed to return to homes along the Callicoon Creek.
Another 25 people from the Foxcroft Village area received help from the American Red Cross at the Loch Sheldrake Senior Center, while displaced residents of hard-hit Livingston Manor were housed in the hamlets Methodist church.
The Roscoe Nursing Home served as a shelter for not only its residents but the dozens of people displaced in Roscoe, where the main drag was filled with at least 4 feet of water.
The hamlets of the Town of Rockland were among the hardest hit, and code enforcement officers from neighboring towns were out in force examining businesses and homes along the waters path to determine whether their owners could safely return.
Most roads throughout the county are passable, according to Alexis Eggleton, aide to the Sullivan County Legislature.
But we dont advise it, she said.
With the state of emergency in effect until Friday, Eggleton said the residents are asked to use the roads only in emergencies and to proceed with caution.
Route 17 is still closed in some areas, as are town roads in a number of hamlets. A number of bridges were washed away by the water, and motorists should be alert for shoulder damage.
Residents on the White Sulphur Springs water system and those served by the Callicoon Water Company are also advised to boil water until further notice.
Theres a tanker in place in the rear of the Jeffersonville Village Hall for residents who are without water while the water department works to bring its system back online.
Residents in Jeff are also advised to boil their water.
In the coming days, rolloff containers will be placed in strategic places around the village for flood debris limited to village residents.
Cleanup is the biggest project on the horizon across the county.
Governor George Pataki has issued his own disaster declaration, enabling Sullivan County to begin applying for state aid.
Legislators have also asked Pataki to make the request for federal aid to President George Bush.
A federal disaster declaration is essential if residents are to be eligible for FEMA aid.
For information on receiving help for displaced residents, call 211, the United Way of Sullivan County at 794-1771 or the American Red Cross, 877-RED-CROSS.