February 23, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Delivers Update on State Response to Ice Jams Along the Mohawk River

Governor Cuomo Delivers Update on State Response to Ice Jams Along the Mohawk River

Pre-emptive Measures to Lower Water Levels Successful in Mitigating Flooding

Lower Temperatures Favorable for Decreased Chance of Flooding in the Coming Days

Coordination Continues Between State and Local Agencies to Lessen Potential Impacts in Areas Prone to Flooding

Governor Andrew Cuomo today delivered an update on the state's response to ice jams that have been clogging the Mohawk River. Over the past several days, state and local personnel have worked around the clock to mitigate flooding in communities that are at risk of ice jams, primarily in Schenectady County. The ice jam along the Mohawk River has broken up and parts have moved downstream. Decreased snow melt and lower temperatures this weekend are favorable for reduced chances of flooding.

"I commend the state and local officials who have worked tirelessly to provide assistance to the communities of the Mohawk River impacted by ice jams and flooding," Governor Cuomo said. "Conditions seem to be in our favor at the moment, but rest assured that we have assets on standby to ensure that residents and properties are protected until the threat has passed."

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has been in constant contact with the National Weather Service since late January and continues weekly communication with Albany and Schenectady counties, the City of Schenectady, the State Canal Corporation, the State Department of Transportation, and the State Department of Environmental Conservation to discuss weather conditions, ice jam surveillance, county and local emergency response preparations, state actions, and requests for state assistance.

In advance of flooding impacts along the river, the state deployed approximately 50,000 sandbags to the region, two sandbag fillers, ten pumps with associated hoses and strainers, and two UHF Repeaters for emergency communications. The Department of Environmental Conservation, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control, and Albany County personnel have utilized drones and have flown dozens of assessment missions to assess size, scope, and changes in the ice jam.

Additionally, pre-emptive measures were taken by New York State Canals to lower Delta and Hinckley Reservoir water levels to provide additional storage capacity in anticipation of the forecasted runoff. The coordinated efforts to respond to this week's flooding along the Mohawk included 24-hour operations and two state DOT excavators, including one long arm excavator, which were deployed to Lock 8 to break up the ice. The Department of Environmental Conservation has three boats in the region and continues to monitor conditions and is ready to respond as necessary.

A Citizen Preparedness Corps Training is scheduled for Schenectady County Community College on Friday, March 2 at 9:30 a.m. for residents of the Capital District Region who wish to learn how to prepare for hazards such as flooding. State and local experts will be on hand during and after the presentation. More information can be found at www.prepare.ny.gov.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Roger Parrino said, "State and local officials spent weeks preplanning and adjusting to tackle potential flooding issues along the Mohawk River. When flooding became a reality, equipment and personnel were in place, which shortened response times. This is another example of all levels of government working together for the public good."

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Directed by Governor Cuomo, the State Department of Environmental Conservation stands ready to respond to emergencies at a moment's notice, especially when people's lives may be at risk. The boats we have provided as part of the state's multi-agency response in the Capital Region will allow emergency personnel to quickly reach people in distress, providing critical and timely assistance to those impacted by ice jams and flooding."

Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, "Working with state and local partners, NYSDOT is actively monitoring the situation along the Mohawk. We are vigilantly watching our bridges for impacts from ice flows and helping to excavate ice jams. Flooding situations can happen very quickly and we will be out there every day until the threat of flooding has passed."

Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, “The safety and integrity of the Canal system is our utmost priority. We are lucky in New York State to have great collaboration amongst state agencies. Under Governor Cuomo’s direction, our agency partners come together when risky situations, like flooding along our waterways, arise and bring swift and creative solutions to the task. We are grateful for the steadfast efforts by State staff during the past few days and are will continue to work with our partner agencies to monitor water levels along the river as ice continues to thaw.”

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said, "Ice jams and flooding are issues that residents along the Mohawk are all too familiar with. The City of Schenectady is grateful for the round-the-clock efforts by the Governor's operations staff and NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and other state agencies in these moments."

Schenectady County Legislature Chairperson Anthony Jasenski said, "Mother Nature is a powerful force and these ice jam concerns are real as they pose a threat to our businesses, homes, roads and bridges. I applaud the Governor for coming out to see the devastating effects first hand and for his continued support as we try and mitigate the situation."


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