October 21, 2021

Cortland County declares state of emergency – Full Story

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Cones dot the sides of roads across Cortland County; a town of Taylor road is closed because a culvert washed out — a bridge, too. Backyards and fields across Cincinnatus were under water Friday afternoon.

A state of emergency was declared for Cortland County after torrential downpours and high winds Thursday washed out roads and damaged to culverts, according to a news release from the county.

“Fortunately, no lives were lost as a result of this storm, but municipalities across the county are facing expensive repairs,” said Kevin Whitney (R-Cortlandville), the legislature chairman and acting county administrator. “By issuing this declaration, it will ensure that if state and federal funding is made available to offset the cost of repairs communities in the county will be eligible for that assistance.”

There is no threat to public safety, Whitney said, but he said people should be vigilant when on the roads and to report any damage to 911.

The Otselic River at Cincinnatus crested about 8 a.m. at 9.19 feet and had dropped to 5.06 feet by 7 a.m. today, the National Weather Service reports. Flood stage is 8 feet. The Tiougnioga River had climbed to 9.75 feet by 2 a.m. — flood stage is 8 feet — but dropped to 8.66 feet by 7 a.m.

Two roads were closed in the county from the storm, said Alan Ricottilli, the engineering and maintenance supervisor at the Cortland County Highway Department:

  • East River Road in Truxton between West Cheningo Road and Cheningo Road, where more than a foot of water covered the road.
  • Taylor Valley Road in Taylor between Town Line Road and Route 26 , where a culvert washed out.

Ricottilli said East River Road will reopen when the water recedes and work on Taylor Valley Road will resume Monday. Also, a bridge washed out on Potter Hill Road in Taylor, county officials said.

Elsewhere, work crews marked soft spots on the edge of the road along a number of roads in Taylor. Mud had been wiped away from Route 26 in spots in Cincinnatus and Solon, and backyards and fields near the ooded Otselic River were themselves under water.

“I’ve been on the phone nonstop,” said Courtney Metcalf, the county’s assistant director of emergency response and communications, in contact with the State Emergency Management Office and the state Department of Transportation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in 11 counties: Cayuga — where the Owaso Inlet flooded in Moravia — Chautauqua, Dutchess, Erie, Essex, Hamilton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Saratoga and Warren.

Fifty-eight roads were closed across the state and more than 241,000 buildings or home were without power, the Governor’s Office reported.

“I am deploying 200 members of the National Guard to impacted areas to assist with response operations,” Cuomo said. “These situations can be a matter of life and death, and I am urging all New Yorkers to exercise extreme caution and only travel if necessary.”

Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency to stand ready to approve any request from New York sate for a major disaster declaration and be ready to help with a preliminary damage assessment.

“This Halloween storm was scary and real,” Schumer said. “Communities across Upstate New York saw severe damage, and were ravaged by heavy rain, flooding and power outages due to the tempestuous winds and severe storms, and it is absolutely critical that we get them the resources they need to recover.”