March 14, 2011


Firefighters pump out basements

Flood waters recede as residents clean up damage over weekend

Staff Reporter

Joseph Tucci’s Groton Avenue home sits on the edge of Otter Creek and is no stranger to flooding, but even he got a surprise Friday.
“The water was over the foot bridge, it was coming toward the back and it was a river,” Tucci said Saturday, as firefighters pumped a remaining foot of water out of his basement.
City firefighters on Saturday wrapped up their cleanup work of pumping water from flooded basements, including those on Lincoln and Maple avenues.
Fire Capt. Scott Buchanan said the department had at least 30 such calls during Friday’s flood. Firefighters pumped water out of half a dozen houses that night.
Otter Creek, which quickly spilled out into many surrounding Cortland city streets Friday morning, flows along the fringe of Tucci’s property. The creek was still flowing heavily on Saturday, but at a lower level than it had the day before.
Streets including Townley and Broadway were clear by Saturday. Others closer to the Tioughnioga River, including part of Kellogg Road, outside the city were not reopened until Sunday.
Creek water gushed Friday around Tucci’s home, through his backyard and filled his basement with 5 feet of water. Tucci said the interior of his car also got waterlogged when he tried to move it.
“I have flood insurance, but it’s a $5,000 deductible so that means nothing,” he said. “Unless you’re wiped out it doesn’t count.”
Officials had to wait until waters receded and utilities were shut off before they could clear out homes.
“I’ve been through a few of these over the last 20 years or so — you can only do so much,” Buchanan said.
Tucci said he is considering building up the wall near where his property meets Otter Creek to help curb it from spilling over and flooding his home again in the future.
“If it was another 1 or 2 feet higher, it might not have went over and instead just kept flowing,” he said.
Tucci has lived in his 106 Groton Ave. home since April 2010, but firefighters said they have been called to that residence on past flooding incidents.
“If it’s flooded before it’s going to flood again — that’s just part of where we live,” Buchanan said.
The last two major floods in the Cortland area were in 1996 and 2005.
Friday’s flooding was blamed on a combination of heavy rains and snowmelt due to 40-degree temperatures.
Cortland County remained under a flood warning Saturday until around 3 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. Minor flooding continued in the area of the Tioughnioga River, which dropped below its flood stage by the end of the weekend.


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