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The Black River in full spate, almost four feet above flood stage, noon Thursday April 17.  Photo: Brian Caird
The Black River in full spate, almost four feet above flood stage, noon Thursday April 17. Photo: Brian Caird

Updated: Black River receding, but officials urge caution

UPDATE - 2 P.M. High water in the Black River continues to fall. According to the the National Weather service, the water level at Watertown reads 11.5 feet at this hour. The Schroon River also continues to fall, but remains in the moderate to major flood zone, at just over 9 feet at Rivebank.

UPDATE - 8 A.M. The Black River is falling this morning. According to the National Weather Service, it's now just over 12 feet at Watertown, still two feet above flood stage, but down a foot and a half since it crested early yesterday morning.

It had been expected to crest at 14.2 feet, but after reaching 13.8 feet the river fell through the day. Those levels are still the second highest the Black River has been in recorded history. Flood warnings remain in effect for Jefferson and Lewis counties, and counties along Lake Champlain.

APR 18, 2104 - People along the Black River in the Watertown area were watching the river closely today, after forecasters predicted the Black would come close to setting a new record for high water as it crested. But as of this afternoon, the water levels are going down, according to the National Weather Service and emergency crews on the ground.

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Reported by

Natasha Haverty
Reporter and Producer

Russell Randall is Deputy Fire Chief for the City of Watertown and he says they've had plenty of advance warning to prepare. "Sometimes there can be a surge in the water table in and of itself as the water comes down river, but by all accounts that I've had up to this point the water should be receding."

Yesterday the river flooded several houses in Carthage and West Carthage, and a few people had to be rescued after getting stranded on the river. Some spent the night in a Red Cross Shelter in town last night, but that shelter won't be open tonight. And while the river has gotten higher in Watertown, Deputy Chief Randall says his team doesn't anticipate anybody having to evacuate from their houses.

The Black over its banks, noon Thursday. Photo: Brian Caird
The Black over its banks, noon Thursday. Photo: Brian Caird
Bob Simpson, deputy fire coordinator for Jefferson County who's been based at Jefferson County Emergency Services during the flooding, urges people to use extreme caution around flooded water. "If there's water over a road you shouldn't drive through it, because you don't know the condition of the road, the road could be washed out under the water especially if the water is moving across the road."

He says sometimes looks can be deceiving, especially when there's low levels of water on the road. "If a river comes out of its bank and its flowing, you can't even walk in water that's swift water above your ankles. It will take you off your feet. So it's very important to stay out of any flooded water if at all possible."

Simpson says responders are using lots of sandbags, and closing roads, and asks people to resist the temptation to come and look at the river for now, so that responders have the room they need. Simpson says now that river levels are going down, responders can start pumping water from houses.

Until that point, he says, there was no use in trying to get the water out, because the water kept coming in. "Pretty much you have to just be prepared and get out of the way and let the water come up and when it goes down, you know, go back and try to restore things to the way they were before."

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