Flood Watches and Warnings in Effect for Most of New York
Potential For Minor to Moderate Flooding of Streams, Rivers, Low Lying, Urban, and Poor Drainage Areas
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed state agencies to prepare for flooding issues throughout the state and urged all New Yorkers to take actions to ensure that they are ready for heavy rains, which will begin today and continue through Friday. Rain will be heavy at times, and the combination of snowmelt and heavy rainfall could cause moderate flooding to already swollen rivers and streams, low lying areas, urban areas, and areas with poor drainage. In Western New York, some areas could see one to five inches of snow in the higher elevations as the system moves through the state.
“With heavy rain in the forecast, I am directing state agencies to prepare for potential flooding and I urge New Yorkers to exercise caution and stay safe,” Governor Cuomo said. “New Yorkers should be ready for the possibility of hazardous travel conditions and state agencies will be on alert and be prepared to assist communities across the state if the need arises.”
Governor Cuomo has directed the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Emergency Management and Office of Fire Prevention and Control, the Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Police, New York State Parks, and other state agencies to prepare staff, assets and stockpiles to support response efforts that may arise during the current flood watches and warnings across the state. The State Watch Center and Emergency Operations Center began to operate in enhanced monitoring at 8 a.m. today.
The State’s nine regional stockpiles are each prepared with a sandbagging machine, generators, pumps and hoses and there are over 768,000 fillable sandbags state-wide. The Division’s swift water rescue teams: New York Task Force-2, Urban Search and Rescue Teams, boats, and high axle vehicles are prepared for deployment. Additionally, 20,000 sandbags and a sandbagging machine have already been deployed to Oneida County, to be shared with Herkimer County, as a precautionary measure.
All State Police assets, including 4x4s, high axle vehicles and boats are ready for deployment. Four airboats and four Zodiac boats have been paired regionally with swift water trained rescue diving teams throughout the state. Troopers have been instructed to remain on high alert and to closely monitor flood prone areas for rising waters while on patrol.
The Department of Environmental Conservation is closely monitoring the weather and has plans and personnel in place for potential flooding. DEC has emergency vehicles and equipment, including 4x4 vehicles, Utility Task Vehicles, boats, and other flood-related equipment prepped and ready to be deployed as needed across the state as needed.
DEC operates and maintains 106 flood control projects across the state, including levees, floodwalls, and pumps stations. These projects are ready for operation if river stages exceed the action levels for any particular project. In addition, DEC’s Dam Safety program requires owners of High and Intermediate Hazard dams to develop Emergency Action Plans. These types of dams are routinely inspected by DEC. The plans require notification to local emergency managers and DEC when a dam incident is developing. Some plans require notifications of high flow events, as well. DEC also advises local officials regarding developing or potentially developing dam incidents upon request.
In preparation for severe weather and flooding New York State Parks has alerted park police and park personnel to closely monitor weather updates and storm preparation efforts. New York State Parks has begun assessing and lowering lake levels, clearing culverts and preparing necessary equipment. Park patrons should monitor www.nysparks.com or call their local park office for the latest updates regarding park hours, openings and closings
The New York State Department of Transportation is actively preparing for high water by readying equipment and staff who will conduct flood watches, monitor bridges as water rises, and respond as needed. DOT crews have been actively working to clear culverts and drainage basins to help ensure they flow freely. The NYSDOT has 3,845 operators and supervisors statewide and is ready to respond with 1,463 large dump trucks, 322 loaders, 73 excavators, 21 graders, 12 bucket trucks, 17 vacuum trucks with sewer jets, five trailer mounted sewer jets, 12 water tankers, 13 water pumps, and 4 bulldozers.
The New York Power Authority, in consultation with the New York State Canal Corporation and Brookfield Renewable Partners, has been preemptively increasing water discharges from the Hinckley Reservoir into West Canada Creek to allow more room in the reservoir for expected additional rainfall. NYPA proactively monitors water levels and continues to discharge water until it is determined that the peak of the flood is approaching. If this happens, NYPA will shut off discharges to hold back water, thereby reducing and delaying peak flows that come over the spillway as much as possible. NYPA operates the Gregory B. Jarvis hydroelectric power plant on the north side of the reservoir.
Flood Watches and Warnings are in effect for most of the entire state:
- Flood Watch: in effect for Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Southern Saratoga, Schenectady, Washington, and Warren Counties until 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
Central New York
- Flood Watch: Southern Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, and Onondaga Counties is in effect until 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
- Flood Watch: for Northern Cayuga, and Oswego Counties is in effect until 2 p.m. Saturday.
- Flood Watch: for Seneca and Yates Counties is in effect until 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
- Flood Watch: Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Wayne, and Wyoming is in effect until 2 p.m. Saturday.
- Flood Watch: is in effect for Nassau and Suffolk Counties until 2 p.m. Friday
- Coastal Flood Advisory: for the south shore back bays of Western Long Island, for Thursday afternoon and evening around high tide.
- Flood Watch: for Dutchess, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties until 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
- Flood Watch: for Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester Counties until 2 p.m. Friday.
- Flood Watch: in effect for Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, and Schoharie counties until 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
- Flood Warning: in effect for the Mohawk River at Delta Dam in Oneida County until further notice.
New York City
- Flood Watch: for Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens, and Richmond Counties until 2 p.m. Friday
- Coastal Flood Advisory: for Kings, Queens, and the lower NY Harbor for Thursday afternoon and evening around high tide.
- Flood Watch: for Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, and St. Lawrence Counties from Thursday morning until 8 a.m. Saturday morning.
- Flood Watch for Jefferson and Lewis Counties until 2 p.m. Saturday.
- Flood Warning: in effect for the Chenango River at Sherburne in Chenango County until further notice.
- Flood Warning: for the Susquehanna River at Conklin affecting Broome County from Thursday morning until further notice.
- Flood Warning for The Susquehanna River at Vestal affecting Broome and Tioga Counties from Thursday afternoon until further notice.
- Flood Warning for The Susquehanna River at Bainbridge affecting Chenango and Delaware Counties from this evening until Saturday afternoon.
- Flood Watch: for Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Delaware, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga, and Thompkins Counties until 8 a.m. Saturday.
Western New York
- Flood Watch: for Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, and Niagara Counties until 2 p.m. Saturday.
A flash flood or flood watch means there is a potential for flooding within the designated watch area based on current forecasts — when a watch is issued, citizens should be alert and ready to take action. A flash flood or flood warning is issued when flooding has been reported or is imminent — at that point, the public should take necessary precautions and actions at once. It is essential that citizens get up-to-date weather information during flood watches and warnings, which can escalate quickly.
The best way to receive official emergency information, which can change quickly, is to subscribe to NY-ALERT (www.nyalert.gov ) the state’s free, customizable, all-hazards notification system.
Governor Cuomo urged New Yorkers to pay special attention to the following safety information:
Flood Safety Preparedness:
- Learn the safest route from your home or business to high, safe ground should you have to leave in a hurry. Develop and practice a family escape plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.
- Program emergency numbers into the phones of each household member.
- Make an itemized list – as well as potential photo and video documentation -- of all valuables, including furnishings, clothing, and other personal property. Keep the list in a safe place.
- Stockpile emergency supplies of canned food, medicine, first aid supplies, and drinking water. Store drinking water in clean, closed containers.
- Have a plan for your pets.
- Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries, and emergency cooking equipment available.
- Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to pump fuel for several days. Have a small disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.
- Find out how the location of your property relates to possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
- Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.
- Check your insurance coverage. Homeowners’ insurance policies generally do not cover flood damages. Only flood insurance can protect your home against flood damages. You can purchase flood insurance whether or not you live in a mapped flood zone.
Travel Precautions during a Flood
During flash flooding, your vehicle can be the biggest danger. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water.
- Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way.
- Driving through 6 inches of standing water can cause cars to lose control and stall.
- Do not underestimate the destructive power of fast-moving water. A foot of rushing water can carry away a small car and it takes just two feet of fast-moving flood water to carry away most vehicles including SUVs and pick-up trucks. Water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
- Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges, and low areas.
- If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.
Flood Safety During a Flood:
- Monitor the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Weather Radio or your local radio and TV station broadcasts for information.
- If local officials advise evacuation, do so promptly. If you are directed to a specific location, go there.
- Know where shelters are located.
- As a precaution prior to any flood, check basement drains to make sure they are clear and energized wires are off the floor. If flooding of a home or business has already occurred, contact your utility companies to have electricity and natural gas service turned off. In the event of flooding, never attempt to turn off electricity and natural gas service. Stay out of flooded basements. Energized wiring or outlets below the water line may pose a hazard; natural gas service in a flooded basement may also pose a danger.
- Bring outside possessions, including lawn furniture, garbage cans, and other movable objects, inside the house, or tie them down securely.
- If there is time, move essential items and furniture to upper floors in the house.
- Disconnect electrical appliances that cannot be moved. DO NOT touch them if you are wet or standing in water.
- Secure your home by locking all doors and windows.
- More safety tips for staying safe before, during, and after floods and other storms can be found on the DHSES website: www.dhses.ny.gov.