As Hurricane Henri prepares to make landfall on Sunday afternoon, the Capital and Mohawk Valley areas are bracing for potential heavy rains and flooding.
“The situation is very worrying,” said John Garver, professor of geology at Union College, which studies natural disasters.
He said Henri’s path and the current saturated soil are reminiscent of when Hurricane Irene devastated the area almost 10 years ago.
“Henri has a lot of nervous people because there are incredible similarities,” he said. “The soil is saturated and intense precipitation is expected in the Schoharie. “
On Saturday afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the counties of New York, Long Island, Hudson Valley, Capital Region, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley. As part of his statement, Cuomo announced that he has called in 500 National Guard troops and directed state assets to prepare for severe storm impacts in those areas.
Schoharie County Emergency Services Director Mike Hartzel returned from vacation on Cape Cod on Saturday as the hurricane continued to move toward the coast. He said Schoharie County Emergency Services are preparing for any impact the storm may have as they have done for others in the past.
“We are watching it,” he said. “We’ll know more as it gets closer.”
He said if things should get worse, the county is ready to apply evacuation procedures and advise people to leave the area. He said people should have at least three days of food and water supplies and a radio handy in situations like this.
The Gilboa Dam also has another 3 feet of space before the water starts to overflow, Hartzel said.
“But that doesn’t mean it’s going to flood because it’s overflowing all the time,” he said.
Schenectady County has set up an Emergency Command Center at the County Roads Department, with department heads ready to meet and follow the storm from there starting Sunday morning, the director said. of the county, Rory Fluman.
Fluman said the county had also spoken to the city’s firefighters and police.
However, he said it will be a waiting game, as the storm is not expected to start hitting the area until later in the afternoon.
In the meantime, road crews, as well as a bagging machine, if necessary, are on standby.
“As we learned 10 years ago, we know where the weak spots are,” said Fluman, noting that areas typically flooded include the Stockade and parts of Nova Scotia near Jumpin ‘Jacks.
He said the county would be prepared to move people to hotels “if necessary”.
Fluman said the county has not received many calls so far regarding the storm.
“Strangely enough, that’s what happened 10 years ago,” said Fluman.
The Albany National Weather Service, which has a site at Albany International Airport, forecasts 3 to 6 inches of rain in the capital region, with thunderstorms expected to bring heavier rains to some areas, with totals of up to 10 inches.
“Right now we have flood watch for Schenectady,” meteorologist Ingrid Amberger said. “We’re going to see a lot of rain.
She said areas like the Catskills and Helderberg Mountains could also see more rain due to their terrain.
In addition to the rain that is expected to fall, the ground is already too saturated after tons of rain that fell in July. Amberger said the past month was the wettest July on record for Albany since record keeping began in 1826.
This rain should start to hit very hard Sunday afternoon as Henri makes landfall.
“It would be the biggest flood threat,” Amberger said.
The Canal Corporation announced via tweet on Saturday morning that it was making plans to lift the movable dams between Lock E-8 in Rotterdam and Lock E-15 at Fort Plain in case Henri changes course and heads towards the west.
“If the storm requires the lifting of the movable dams, the ships and docks will experience a complete lowering of the canal to winter levels and would likely be grounded after the movable dam lifting operation,” another tweet said.
The Canal Corp. urged residents to “take appropriate action” regarding boats, docks or any other seasonal structure.
Organizers have canceled at least two outdoor events scheduled for Sunday due to weather forecasts.
Music Haven’s concert at Schenectady’s Central Park, with Liraz and special guests Firas Zreik, which was scheduled to start at 7 p.m., was canceled early Saturday evening. The organizers of the Altamont fair followed suit, announcing later in the evening that the fair would be closed on Sunday.
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