February 19, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Urges New Yorkers to Prepare for Potential Ice Jam Flooding

Governor Cuomo Urges New Yorkers to Prepare for Potential Ice Jam Flooding

Warm Up this Week will Increase Flooding Threats On Rivers and Streams, Especially the Mohawk River In Albany and Schenectady Counties

Over 50,000 Sandbags Deployed to Capital Region to Bolster Flood Prone Areas Along the Mohawk

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged New Yorkers who live in areas along streams and rivers to take precautions against potential ice jam flooding in the wake of much warmer temperatures and rain expected this week. Unseasonably warm weather is forecast this week statewide, and will be accompanied by period of rain this afternoon into tonight, with some additional showers upstate Tuesday into Wednesday. The combination of warm temperatures, some rainfall and snowmelt could lead to ice jam movement and minor flooding Tuesday afternoon into Thursday. As temperatures increase, the threat for ice jam movement and possible ice jam flooding remains near clogging points by bridges, river bends, locks, and other potential obstruction areas along these rivers and streams.

The large ice jam along the Mohawk River is being closely monitored for movement. Other areas of concern across the state are the Black River in the North Country region near Watertown, Fish Creek in Oneida County and the Mohawk River in the Mohawk Valley Region, and the east branch of the Ausable River near Ausable Forks in the North Country. Currently there are flood watches in effect for the North Country and parts of the Central New York regions. Communities near ice jams that are currently in place are urged to closely monitor future forecasts and heed instructions from emergency management officials and local law enforcement.

"Since mid-December, we have been vigilantly monitoring 50 ice jams across New York, and given this week's weather forecast, I have directed state agencies to prepare for conditions that could increase the flooding risk statewide," Governor Cuomo said. "I urge anyone living along the Mohawk River, or in areas that have experienced previous flooding, to pay close attention to weather reports and stay safe."

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Roger Parrino, Sr. said, "We have been actively monitoring ice jams for many weeks across New York and continue to work closely with our state and local partners to make sure communities have the resources they need to prepare for and respond to any flooding along rivers and streams."

New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas said, "With temperatures expected to rise in the coming days, we are monitoring this potential ice jam situation very closely. At Governor Cuomo's direction, the Department of Transportation is preparing and will respond as needed to help our fellow New Yorkers, in cooperation with our state and local partners."

New York State Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said, "The Thruway Authority is ready to respond to any potential flooding along the Thruway system. We're actively monitoring the conditions and are prepared with resources and staff to respond as needed with other state agencies."

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "New Yorkers work together when rapid changes in weather have the potential to cause flooding. Directed by Governor Cuomo, DEC's expert staff are monitoring rivers, streams and creeks across the state for potential ice jam flooding and stand ready to help our neighbors along these waterways by repairing flood protection structures and expediting permits. With our state agency partners, we are prepared to do whatever it takes to help our neighbors."

"The Canal Corporation is coordinating with the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and other local emergency management offices and we have taken all necessary precautions to secure Canal assets for potential ice jam flooding along the Mohawk," said Brian Stratton, Canal Corporation director. "As with all times of the year, safety is our main priority, so we caution all New Yorkers to increase awareness and take precautions."

Superintendent George P. Beach II said, "State Police continue to monitor potential ice jam locations, and stand ready to assist our state partners and local communities if flooding conditions develop."

State Agency Preparations

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

New York State has been in close contact with local and state officials in Schenectady and Albany Counties for several weeks preparing for potential flooding due to the size and scope of the ice jam on the Mohawk River. Since the end of January, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has been in constant contact with the National Weather Service and continues to hold multiple conference calls per week with Albany and Schenectady counties, the City of Schenectady, State Canal Corporation, State Department of Transportation, and 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.

To date, the Division has provided more than 50,000 sandbags, 2 sandbag fillers, ten pumps with associated hoses and strainers, and 2 UHF Repeaters for emergency communications to Albany County and Schenectady County.

Sand Bag Operations

Albany County

  • Port of Albany in Albany

Schenectady County

  • Schenectady County Highway Department in Schenectady
  • City of Schenectady - Foster Avenue in Schenectady

Additionally, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is prepared to respond to requests for assistance with assets from its stockpiles, including 732 generators, 255 light towers, 1,258 pumps, 9 sandbaggers, more than 990,000 sandbags, more than more than 63,000 ready-to-eat meals, almost 70,000 bottles and 348,000 cans of water, over 9,000 cots, approximately 13,000 blankets and pillows, over 4,000 flashlights, 960 traffic barriers, 594 traffic barrels, and over 7,600 feet of aqua dam. Additionally, the Office of Fire Prevention and Control has identified potential swift water rescue launch sites in strategic areas along the Mohawk and Hudson rivers.

A Citizen Preparedness Corps Training has been scheduled for March 2, at Schenectady County Community College at 9:30 a.m. to give residents the information they need to make sure that they are prepared if flooding occurs, how best to respond and how to recover as quickly as possible. State and Local Emergency Management officials will be on hand to answer questions from the public. Registration is highly recommended and is available at prepare.ny.gov

Department of Transportation

At the request of Schenectady County, the Department of Transportation is regularly monitoring areas that have been threatened historically by repetitive flooding. The Department of Transportation has pre-staged six light towers, four loaders, and road closure apparatus at the DOT Rotterdam Residency in Schenectady. Additionally, the Department of Transportation has been working with the Schenectady County to monitor 12 flapper values (11 under Route 890, 1 under Route 5S) to ensure they are working properly and remain clear of debris.

Thruway Authority

The Thruway Authority is prepared to respond to any flooding issues statewide with over 590 operators and 91 supervisors, 16 small to medium sized excavators, 260 plow/dump trucks, 55 large loaders, and a number of portable VMS boards, portable light towers, smaller generators, smaller pumps and equipment hauling trailers, as well as signage and other traffic control devices available for any detours or closures.

Department of Environmental Conservation

The Department of Conservation has conducted several drone flights of rivers, streams and creeks across the state to provide situational awareness of the size and scope of potential ice jams. Drone flights will continue as conditions change to supplement aerial imagery. DEC is also using FEMA flood plain maps and staff experts to identify priority flood prone areas, including nearby creeks and streams, where snow melt and rain could cause damaging flooding. DEC is monitoring stream level forecasts and flood gauges on creeks, streams, and rivers to assess flooding risks and respond to potential flooding. In addition, 100 DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers, State Forest Rangers, water engineers, spill response staff and emergency management personnel are ready with 25 boats and other emergency management tools to rapidly respond to any spills or search and rescue operations that are needed as flood waters rise.

DEC also stands ready to approve Emergency Authorizations to expedite approval of projects on an expedited basis in place of an individual permit, and generally can be issued within 24 hours. DEC approves Emergency authorizations for situations that are deemed an emergency based on the immediate protection of life, health, general welfare, property or natural resources.

Canal Corporation

Canal Corporation staff have been coordinating closely with DHSES as well as other state and local emergency response entities to prepare Canals assets for potential ice jam flooding. The Canal Corporation has preemptively lowered Delta and Hinckley Reservoir water levels to provide additional storage capacity in anticipation of the forecasted runoff.

New York State Police

State Troopers will continue to assist with monitoring areas along rivers and streams that are prone to ice jams flooding. Troopers are ready to be deployed in case flooding occurs. All four wheel drive vehicles along with snowmobiles and boats are ready for deployment as needed.

Flood Safety Tips

Below are flood preparation safety tips:

  • 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.
  • Make an itemized list - as well as potentially 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 and first aid supplies and drinking water. Store drinking water in clean, closed containers
  • Plan what to do with 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 many feet your property is above and below 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 on 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

For a list of complete list of weather terms and preparation ideas before during and after a flood, visit the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website at www.dhses.ny.gov/oem/safety-info/flood/floodprepare.cfm.


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