When locals talk about flooding, they all point to 2005 as the year to beat. You could call it a high-water mark. In some places you can still see it.
Last week’s flooding might not have been quite as bad, but tell that to the folks who were trapped in the vehicles, had to be rescued from their flooded homes, or saw water rising rapidly in their basements.
One of the areas hardest hit was a stretch of Route 212 in West Saugerties. There, numerous homes were evacuated, a small furnace fire was triggered by rising waters, and a number of motorists just didn’t believe that orange barriers across the roadway meant they shouldn’t proceed. (Perhaps the thought was “They can’t mean me.”)
Fire Chief Randy Ricks of the Centerville & Cedar Grove Fire Company said the first call came just after 4:30 a.m. Friday morning (March 11), when two women called from their car saying they were trapped in flood waters on Route 212.
Many of the fire company’s firefighters are duck hunters with flat-bottomed boats, and one of those boats was pressed into service, Ricks said. Wearing waders, firefighters towed vessel the through water 3-feet deep to the women, who boarded and were ferried to dry land.
A short time later, the road was closed and barricades were set up. But that didn’t stop two more drivers from maneuvering through the barricades like a slalom and promptly making a splash with their unamphibious vehicles. They also had to be rescued by the firemen and their trusty duck-hunting boats.
In addition to rescuing trapped motorists, Centerville & Cedar Grove firefighters also rescued folks from their flooding homes. “A woman and her older mother were taken from their Old Route 212 home,” Ricks said. “Water was up to their backdoor when we got there.”
Firefighters transported the two women to the firehouse to wait out the flood, Ricks said.
Pumping out basements
Over 150 basements were pumped out by local departments over the weekend.
The Centerville & Cedar Grove Company did 58 basements and one unexpected fire. Ricks said firefighters were pumping out a basement when a call came in that floodwaters had gotten into a home’s basement and extinguished the flame in a furnace. The furnace then caught fire, Ricks said. The home just happened to be around the corner from where firefighters were pumping out a basement and an assistant fire chief used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire before it could cause damage to the basement, Ricks said.
Mt. Marion Fire Department firefighters also evacuated people from their homes. Three people were pulled from their homes along Clint Finger Lane where the Plattekill and Esopus creeks meet.
Firefighters carried one elderly woman from her home to a waiting boat and a young couple were also loaded onto a boat and taken to safety. The young couple was taken to the Saugerties Senior Center, where the town had set up an emergency shelter. They were the only ones to make use of it. Elsewhere, high-ground friends took in low-grounders while the muddy water oozed over the landscape.
Sue Boice operates Boice’s Farm on Clint Finger Lane with her husband Jim, used a kayak to get around flooded areas of the farm. Early Friday morning was the worst of it, said Boice, who could actually hear the water rising. “It was coming up fast and rose till it was about 4 feet in some places,” she said.
The Mignano-Campbell family’s home sits by the Esopus Creek near the village beach at the foot of Partition Street. On Friday morning, Becky Mignano-Campbell and her children Amber, 8, and Blake, 3, were standing in the yard watching old tires, large trees and other debris floating down the Esopus and towards the Hudson. Young Blake was enthralled by the flooding, playing in puddles with his toy trucks, while his mother and sister, decked out in matching boots, watched the water slowly recede. The family had a boat on stand-by just in case. But they didn’t need it.
Husband and father Scott Campbell wasn’t there — he’s a fireman, and duty called.