June 28th, 2006


Heavy rains pass through area

Roads close as Tioughnioga, Otselic overflow banks


Bob Ellis/staff photographer        
Nicole Gallow, left, and Victoria McCormick of Cincinnatus get splashed by a passing car on flooded Lower Cincinnatus Road this morning. The Otselic River overflowed its banks, flooding fields, backyards and roads in the Cincinnatus area.

Staff Reporter
CINCINNATUS — Carrie and Davis Burritt stood up to their ankles in water in their backyard early this morning. The electric company had just left after shutting off power to the house.
A small swing set and a miniature pool in the yard were submerged in water from the overflow of the Otselic River, which runs parallel to the Burritts’ backyard. A plastic bag floated by, accompanied by debris.
The couple own nearly 6 acres of land behind their Lower Cincinnatus residence, and almost all of it was waterlogged from heavy rains that hit the area Monday and continued through today.
Cincinnatus was one of the hardest hit areas in back-to-back rainstorms that have struck Cortland County this week. Weather officials originally predicted that some parts of the county — Cincinnatus, Taylor and Marathon — could see up to 4 inches of rain.
Cincinnatus saw 2.4 inches, Cortland had 2.1 and Tully had 3.2, according to a Binghamton office of the National Weather Service report through 7 a.m. today.
“The widespread soaking, that’s over,” said David Morford, meteorologist for the National Weather Service. “We wouldn’t expect any additional problems. There will be some showers and maybe some thunderstorms around today, but for the most part the heavy rain is gone.”
Don Chambers, superintendent of the County Highway Department, reported several road closings in the county.
Two rivers — the Tioughnioga, which runs parallel with Route 11 in Marathon, and the Otselic, which runs through Cincinnatus — were the two main bodies of water officials predicted would overflow.
“The Tioughnioga has come out of its banks,” Chambers said. He said areas along the river and streams that feed into it are overflowing.
Many of the roads also were closed during the April 2005 flooding. Morford said the Tioughnioga River was up to 10 feet this morning in some spots, which is considered a moderate flood stage.
Chambers said crews were out repairing roads Tuesday night and this morning. Chambers had no reports of bridge damage this morning.
“We’re concentrating on the roads and trying to get what we can back open,” he said.
Affected residents have been trying to do whatever they can to get the water out of their homes, and keep valuables above ground.
“We’ve been up all night, pumping water out,” Davis Burritt, 43, said. “There’s about 5 inches in our basement. Within the next few hours, if this keeps up, we’ll have water coming out of the (basement) windows.”
The 100-yard flood span on Lower Cincinnatus Road, beginning about 20 yards up from the Burritts’ home, made travel along the road nearly impossible this morning. Cars were tire deep in water as they slowly moved through the pools of water on the road.
The Burritts have lived in the 2714 Lower Cincinnatus Road residence for two years and their house barely survived the April 2005 flood. The water had not reached the first floor of their two-story house early this morning.
The couple sent their two children off to their out-of-town grandmother’s house when the flood warning was first issued Tuesday.
“This time isn’t as bad as last year,” Davis Burritt said as he sloshed through the water barefoot wearing a bright-colored T-shirt and swim trunks. “Last year, our house was an island.”
The parking lot of Cincinnatus Central School was being pumped out this morning.
Martin Perkins, a custodian at Cincinnatus Central School, said aside from a flooded parking lot, the school hadn’t been as severely affected as it was last year.
“Basically, at this point we’re fine,” Perkins said this morning. “We have a little seepage, but that’s it.”
Hal Cornell of the Marathon Fire Department was running flood-warning flyers from house to house in the village early Tuesday evening.
“We’ve got one to everybody on Cortland Street — It’s about 70 people,” Cornell said. Route 11 turns into Cortland Street when it comes into the village of Marathon.
Near the intersection of Route 11 and Pine Hill Road in Marathon Tuesday night, water cascaded down across the road, having dumped soggy tree limbs and the red rear-quarter panel of a pickup truck onto the road.
Andy Lenna of Creekside Apartments in Marathon watched the water next door from the front porch.
“That (truck part) traveled at least a mile in the creek water,” Lenna said.
Rosemarie Fralick of Marathon was moving business supplies out of the Autoshine Car Wash on Cortland Street. Her husband owns the car wash.
She said the couple decided to move the items when authorities told them it would be bad. They were moving anything that would float, and dismantling the pumps to the car wash.
Bill Hayes lives near the Burritts on Lower Cincinnatus Road, and said the river had come up to nearly the back of the house.
Hayes bought the house less than a year ago in an auction, and was not aware of the possibility of severe flooding. After a frozen furnace and busted pipes this past winter, Hayes said he would be selling his house.
“This is the third strike — ‘For Sale,’” Hayes said. “Had enough, had enough.”
Staff reporters Ida Pease and Evan Geibel contributed to this article.



Cincinnatus tries to save waterlogged Field Days

Staff Reporter

CINCINNATUS — While many were preparing for potential increased flooding overnight, the Cincinnatus Firemen’s Field Days Committee spent Tuesday working to salvage its event.
A decision was needed because the committee’s site of choice, the field behind the fire department on Telephone Road Extension, was flooded by Tuesday morning.
The committee convened at its scheduled final meeting of the year Tuesday night, but instead of finalizing details, it spent the evening working on a new plan that will allow the Field Days to go on at Cincinnatus Central School rather than at the field.
“Everything’s going to go on as planned, only over at the school now,” said Committee Chair Dean Catlin. “The event will be better than ever, and it will be on asphalt, so people don’t have to worry about walking through mud — just a few raindrops.”
The field days will take place Friday through Saturday at the school.
Catlin said he went out to the field, on which all of the rides and carnival equipment had already been placed, around 7 a.m. Tuesday morning and found the area flooded.
“One of the carnival guys came up to me and said, ‘Dude, we’ve got to get these trailers out of here,’” said Catlin, who noted that the trailers the carnival workers were staying in were closest to the Otselic River and more severely flooded. “We had to get a payloader in here to get them out.”
The day was spent making new arrangements with vendors, planned events and everything else involved with the field days, organizers said.
“Basically we’ve been planning for a year to have the event in that field,” said committee member Mike Natoli. “Today we did a year’s worth of work in about 12 hours.”
This year’s event celebrates the Fire Department’s 100th Anniversary and the committee said it was intent on making it a special event.
The budget for the festival — culminating with a fireworks display — is the highest ever at $4,500.
“It’s going to be the biggest show yet, although we always have the best fireworks,” said committee member Jim Parker.



Summer program needs students

Staff Reporter

HOMER — The school district has opened up its summer enrichment program to students across Cortland County in hopes of attracting more interest in the classes.
There has not been enough interest in any one of the 17 classes offered through the Horizons Summer Enrichment Program, said program coordinator Peter Contento.
The district is looking for students interested in taking summer courses ranging from embroidery to building modern rockets. Students will not earn any credit for the classes, which are considered enrichment opportunities.
Registration is being extended until Monday. Classes that are scheduled to start next week will be rescheduled to start no sooner than July 10.
“We’re off the ground and crawling,” Contento said.