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James Augustine and Ed Annese outside their homes in Tupper Lake (Photos:  Brian Mann)
James Augustine and Ed Annese outside their homes in Tupper Lake (Photos: Brian Mann)

Tupper Lake hit hard over weekend by rising Raquette

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In some parts of the North Country, clean-up efforts and damage assessment has already begun following last week's floods. But in Tupper Lake and other communities along the Raquette, the crisis was still building over the weekend as rising water pushed into more neighborhoods. Brian Mann spoke with families and emergency crews and has our story.

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Reaching Tupper Lake meant a drive through flooded Rt. 3.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

It’s mid-morning on Saturday and on Rt. 3 between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake, state officials are directing traffic through a single lane of the highway that’s covered by the Raquette River.  Cars push through the water. 

Meanwhile, at the Tupper Lake Fire hall, emergency manager Carl Steffen says whole neighborhoods have been hit. 

"We're still looking at rising waters," he said.

In the first days of the storm that dropped more than four inches of rain across the region, there were flash floods and bridges washed out.  But in the week since, the situation in places like Tupper Lake has only worsened. 

Franklin County emergency services director rick provost spoke on Sunday.

"We evacuated seven people by boats from highwater areas.  We're trying to get a handle on what the peak water height is going to be.  We're not sure yet."

Much of Tupper Lake’s downtown waterfront was flooded, with the swollen lake pushing up into neighborhoods.  James Augustine and Ed Annese were standing in their front yards in hip waders.

"Right now I have fifteen and a half inches, so it's come up quite a bit."

"Well, the whole garage is up almost top of your thigh length.  Everything in it is ruined."

According to Rick Provost, another major concern over the weekend was access to medical care.  With the highway to Saranac Lake threatened, back-up plans were in place to transport patients to other locations.

"We do have a life flight helicopter on standby for the next forty eight hours to do critical transports and some people may wind up going to Potsdam," he noted.

As a new week begins, Provost says the big hope is that predicted rain storms don’t bring significant amounts of rain.

"We are by no means out of the woods as far high water.  It's going to take days to get these water levels down."

 

 

On Friday aftrernoon, work crews from the town of Moriah and the state Transportation Department were already at work trying to repair a bridge that supervisor Tom Scozzafava describes as vital.

 

Actuality One:

 

A woman nearly died on this bridge during the storm.  Now that the drama has passed, officials are pivoting fast trying to assess the damage and begin clean-up.  Here’s Governor Andrew Cuomo who spoke here on Friday.

 

Actuality Two:

 

Randy Douglas is chairman of Essex County.  He says damage estimates are already beginning to come in.

 

Actuality Three:

 

In Franklin County, emergency services direcvtor Rick Provost also predicted that damage costs would run into the millions. 

 

Actuality Four: 

 

If the total impact reaches $25 million, Governor Cuomo says that could trigger additional Federal assistance.

 

Actuality Five:

 

One question now will be how that aid will help private businesses and families. 

 

Over the weekend, a fire crew from Westville led by Andy Fish was still pumping out a  flower shop along the banks of the Saranac River.

 

Actuality Six:

 

The owner, Roger Steinbrook, says he hopes to get cleaned up and back in business fast.

 

Actuality Seven: 

 

But others might not be so lucky. Port Henry Mayor Ernest Guerin describe the plight of one family whose home sits on the shore of flood-wracked Lake Champlain.

 

Acutality Eight: 

 

Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire chief Brendan keough warned homeowners forced to evacuate that it could be days before their allowed back into houses and apartments.

 

Actuality Nine: 

 

Meanwhile, officials heaped praise on the Cuomo administration for their quick response to the disaster.  Here’s state Senator Betty Little


For North Country Public Radio..I’m Brian Mann.

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