By GREG HITCHCOCK
Southern Adirondack communities are reeling from wind and rain that closed roads and knocked out utilities.
Officials there are awaiting an assessment to determine if residents will receive federal disaster assistance.
The Halloween rainstorm was the biggest Hamilton County has endured – bigger even than what it experienced from Hurricane Irene in 2011, according to county Emergency Manager G.L. “Don” Purdy.
Wells residents struggled with a swollen Sacandaga River that washed out roads, and a few dozen volunteers spent part of Sunday clearing debris, resident Noah Broiles said.
“Some of the people I talked to – older than me – said the last time they had a storm like that was in the late-‘40s,” Broiles said.
He described water running over the bridge on Lake Algonquin’s outlet – a bridge that by Tuesday afternoon stood some 10 feet above the water level.
Town Supervisor Donald Beach said Wells was stressed, but the community is pulling together.
“We lost power, so I immediately called the governor’s office in response,” Beach said.
The power has since been restored to many residents’ homes, but the need for generators is great, according to Beach.
Major thoroughfares leading in and out of town were washed out, including Route 30, Route 8 and Hernandez Road. The town’s water main broke under the storm’s pressure, leading to a boil advisory.
“We opened up a meal site to offer heat and meals to residents who were evacuated from their homes,” Beach said.
The meal site was located in the Ambulance Building on Buttermilk Hill Road.
Beach said everyone met at the meal site to volunteer by handing out meals or giving a reassuring smile. “Everyone seems to help their neighbors,” he said.
In the meantime, the only way into town was a detour from Northville through Hope Falls.
Although parts of Route 30 have reopened, Beach said there is more to do to recover.
“This is a long-term effort,” Beach said.
Town of Lake Pleasant Supervisor Daniel Wilt said 7 inches of rain caused severe flooding there. The town declared an emergency on Thursday night, he said. The storm had damaged property and the wastewater plant in Speculator.
Other hard-hit communities included Morehouse, Arietta, Piseco, Speculator, Hope, Benson and Indian Lake, Purdy said. Route 30 remained closed north of Speculator on Tuesday afternoon.
The county has been under a state of emergency since Friday morning. The State Department of Transportation and town highway department workers have been working to clear washed-out roads.
“Power has been restored to all customers since last night,” Purdy said.
FEMA will aid the communities with federal assistance if statewide damages total $29.6 million. By Tuesday, 13 New York counties had declared states of emergency.
Purdy said the FEMA assessment will take two to three weeks.
“Everyone who can help is helping, including food distribution in Wells,” Purdy said.
He cautioned people to stay off the roads if they’re marked with a “road closed” sign, to allow workers to clear debris.
“If the road is closed, it means it’s closed,” Purdy said.
Adirondack Explorer reporter Mike Lynch contributed to this report.