September 9, 2011
Cleanup continues as county spared from major flooding
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Cortlandville road crew worker Ray Brown helps to remove a portion of hillside that slid down from Hoxie Gorge Road in Cortlandville during heavy rains. The hillside with trees and roots intact came to rest on Chris Poole’s driveway, pushing his vehicle through a closed garage door.
Chris Poole was stunned to see several tons of waterlogged mud slide about 20 feet downhill and into the driveway of his Cortlandville home on Hoxie Gorge Road.
Nearly 20 miles away in Cincinnatus, Ken Harvey’s house on Lower Cincinnatus Road was surrounded by almost a foot of water that overflowed from nearby Brackel Creek.
A stretch of Daisy Hollow Road in Harford spanning just under a mile was closed this morning due to flooding. Parts of Kellogg Road in Cortlandville, West River Road in Virgil, and part of East River Road in Truxton were also still blocked.
The only way into the town of Cincinnatus Thursday was through Telephone Road or Piety Hill Road.
Area rivers are hovering around flood stages.
But the water is receding and flooding was less severe than predicted, according to the Cortland County Fire and Emergency Management Office.
“This could have been a record-breaking event,” said Fire and Emergency Coordinator Bob Duell. “There wasn’t a lot of storm to this.”
The National Weather Service estimated Thursday that Cortland County’s rainfall ranged from 4.25 inches in some areas and up to 5.68 inches in others. Overnight rain into today measured at 0.02 inches.
Officials are still assessing damage costs, but doubt it is substantial. There is plenty left to clean up.
“I don’t know where to start with this,” Poole said. “What do you do with a hill that’s moved onto your property?” It also pinned his Saturn sport utility vehicle against the garage door. Town highway workers spent hours clearing the mud with a tractor.
Poole surmised that the almost 8 feet of soil was so heavily saturated from recent heavy rains, that it collapsed under the weight.
At the top of the hill was a slope of Hoxie Gorge Road, now rendered a crumbling precipice over his property. County highway crews will repair the damage.
Parts of Cincinnatus appeared to have the most severe flooding and the area was partly cut off due to swollen waters that were 2 feet deep in some spots.
Harvey and his family had to leave their house around 3:30 Thursday morning when the basement flooded and part of the road was almost overrun. He returned six sleepless hours later to check on his house, still partially repaired from flooding in April that struck the Cincinnatus and Willet areas.
“The basement we hadn’t fixed from the last flood yet, because we needed a new furnace,” Harvey said. “I’m glad we hadn’t put a new furnace in yet.”
This flood hit a lot harder and faster than in April, he said.
Poole’s biggest worry was how the collapsed hill would be fixed because the slope continued upward on the other side of the road. Flooding is not uncommon around Hoxie Gorge, but Poole said he has never seen anything like the hill collapse in his 22 years of living there.
But he and Harvey said they were glad the damage stopped where it did.
“The way I’ve got to look at it is, there’s always someone worse off than us,” Harvey said.
Officials say the nonstop rains that drenched Cortland and wreaked havoc in Broome County came from Tropical Storm Lee. McGraw and Marathon areas, often prime targets for flooding, were unscathed. Cortland County officials kept their attention on the Tioughnioga and Otselic rivers, which held steadily near their respective flood stages of 8 and 9 feet.
The Tioughnioga reached a high of nearly 11 feet Thursday, before the water started receding around 2 p.m. The highest crest for the river was in April 2005, when it rose to 14.07 feet, county records show.
The Otselic reached 9.63 feet on Thursday afternoon. The highest it ever reached was in July 1935, when the river crested at 12.5 feet, according to records. Willet Creek stayed within its banks for the most part, just hours after the town of Willet finished its bank stabilization project, said Town Supervisor Alvin “Sandy” Doty Jr.
The town removed gravel and shifted the creek’s course in the hamlet, in a project that started July 24 and was intended to solve flooding problems.
Fall Creek overflowed its banks outside Freeville, along Herman Road and the nearby farm land off Route 366. It also overflowed the Mill Street bridge, causing town officials to close the street during the day.
Staff Reporter Scott Conroe contributed to this article.
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