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Rains worry local emergency officials
Capital Region hit with minor flooding, with more serious problems reported to the west
By MATT PACENZA, Staff writer
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Last updated: 10:58 a.m., Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Emergency officials are keeping a nervous eye on local waterways, as the torrential rains that have devastated swaths of the Southern Tier, Catskills and Central New York move into the Capital Region. As of 10 a.m. this morning, officials reported minor flooding in the Albany area, with more serious problems to the west, particularly in Schoharie and Montgoery counties.

``Several roads are closed,'' said Karen Miller, spokeswoman for Schoharie County. ``We're asking people to please stay off the roads.'' The hardest hit areas are along the Schoharie and Cobleskill creeks in the villages of Richmondville and Cobleskill in the western part of the county, Miller said.

Officials aren't yet able to assess damage, although several cars had been lost to high water. Miller stressed that there was no reason to be concerned yet about the Gilboa dam, which is undergoing emergency repairs. ``Levels there are safe,'' she said.

State authorities announced various road closures, after rains swept through the region:

  • The right lane westbound of the Thruway between Exits 28 and 29 -- between Fonda and Canajoharie; from milepost 188 to 196 -- has been closed due to flooding.
  • Exit ramps at Exits 29A (Little Falls-Dolgeville) and Exit 30 (Herkimer) are closed.
  • All roads in Herkimer County are closed Exit 1 on I-84 Westbound (Port Jervis) is closed

    Amtrak has cancelled several trains west of Albany as a result of flooding on the CSX freight tracks used by its passenger trains.

    Because portions of the Thruway also are closed as a result of flooding, earlier plans to provide bus service between the Albany station in Rensselaer and Syracuse has been called off.

    Nine trains between New York City and Niagara Falls have been cancelled or had their routes abbreviated as a result of the weather, according to Amtrak. Some trains are operating only between New York City and Rensselaer, railroad officials said.

    Most Amtrak service in the East is operating at or near full schedules on most routes, but flooding conditions north of New York and south of Washington continue to cause cancellations and delays, according to the railroad.

    Passengers are advised to call (800) USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com for schedule information and train status updates.

    Additionally, in Albany, the rain prompted the state Office of General Services to move today's Latin Night ``At The Plaza Concert'' into the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. And the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced it will be closed today due to the heavy rains, flooding and dangerous road conditions in Otsego County.

    Schenectady County officials are watching the Mohawk River, which tends to flood in neighborhoods like the Stockade in the city of Schenectady.

    ``At the moment, we're seeing some very minor flooding activity,'' said Emergency Management Director Bill VanHoesen. ``But the river's coming up rapidly.''

    Rensselaer County officials reported no problems this morning.

    In April 1987, 10 people died when a section of the New York State Thruway west of Albany collapsed over the flooded Schoharie Creek following heavy rains that saw 7.5 inches fall in 18 hours.

    As of earlier this year, about 28 percent of the state's bridges were rated as deficient, down from 38 percent in 1995.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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