January 20, 2022

Hillside collapses in Harford

Flooding a recurring issue in neighborhood

Kevin Conlon/city editor

Neighbors’ yards on Route 221 in Harford have been flooded since last week when a hillside collapsed into the East Branch of Owego Creek.

A hillside along the East Branch of Owego Creek gave way the day before Thanksgiving, sliding into the creek, filling it with soil and trees and causing a flood around homes on Route 221, neighbors said.

The hillside abuts the Texas Eastern Products Pipeline Co. property, which is above the hill.

Delma Partridge, 87, of 1110 Route 221, said that on occasion, her home across from Liddington Hill Road becomes an island, surrounded by floodwaters. She said she spent $1,000 about five years ago to have a dirt berm built to protect her home.

She said Monday that the flood had spread across her yard near the creek again.

“This is a freak thing,” she said. “I’m not sure what’s going on. It is rising again, worse today.”

The state Department of Transportation cleared the creek Wednesday after the flooding, neighbors said.

Partridge has lived in Harford since 1961, the last 39 years in her current home, a mobile home with additions built to enlarge it.

A flood two or three years ago ruined her water well and washed away her front and back steps, she said.

“It has come through here before, but nothing like this,” said her neighbor, Rob Peri, who moved into his home at 1098 Route 221 in May. He had three pumps running in his basement Friday to remove water.

“A big chunk (of the hillside) came down before,” Peri said Friday.

“It’s been coming down for years,” said Randi Partridge, who lives with his mother, Delma Partridge.

Neighbors said they worry about more flooding, especially next spring.

“I’m worried already,” Peri said.

Town Highway Superintendent Scott Stairs said Monday he is familiar with the recurring flooding problems.

“That’s been sliding downhill a little bit at a time as long as I can remember,” Stairs said.

The weather has been exceptionally rainy this year, which has contributed to flooding town wide and may have contributed to the hillside collapse, he said.

“We seem to be having a 100-year flood every few weeks,” Stairs said.

Between June and the end of October, Central New York saw about 30 inches of precipitation, the National Weather Service at Binghamton reports. Normally, the region gets 18.4 inches.

The highway superintendent noted the creek flooding near Route 221 where the hillside collapsed is an issue for the state to resolve, not the town.

“I feel bad for them,” he said of the neighbors. “But it’s not the town highway department, we don’t have a dog in the fight. … I don’t know what the permanent solution is, if there is one”

Route 221 is a state route and not in the town’s jurisdiction, Stairs said. He noted the trees in the creek could also affect the nearby bridge on Route 200.

Officials from the state Department of Transportation and state Department of Environmental Conservation could not be reached Monday.

Amanda Barber, the manager of the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District, said her staff has checked the site but she did not immediately know details of the problem.