Crews cleaning up from flood

FORT PLAIN – Volunteers were pouring into the village today to help with the cleanup from the devastating floodwaters that destroyed homes and businesses, displaced dozens of people and crippled the community.

Officials continued to search this morning for Ethel Healy, 87, who is missing after floodwaters uprooted her mobile home and washed it into the Mohawk River, authorities said. Authorities say the woman was in the mobile home just before rushing waters carried it away.

Emergency crews and volunteers this morning were removing debris and cleaning homes and streets. Because of heavy damage, some people still are unable to return to their homes, authorities said this morning.

Meanwhile, flash flood warnings were posted for today along the Mohawk River.

The National Weather Service said showers and thunderstorms were moving into eastern New York and western New England today. Rain is expected to continue into Tuesday, with rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches in most places and up to 5 inches possible in some spots.

Rick Sager, deputy emergency management coordinator for Montgomery County, said this morning crews are prepared to deal with more rain. “You can’t fight Mother Nature,” he said.

He said the areas that received the most damage are Abbott and Reid streets.

Some of the foundations of houses in that area are crumbling and are unsafe for occupancy, he said.

Officials from the state Office of Fire Prevention and Control were checking the infrastructure of houses this morning, he said.

Sager said crews have been removing a lot of debris from the village, and much more remained this morning.

Sager didn’t know how many people are displaced from the flooding, but he said 45 people from Abbott and Reid streets were still in a shelter today at the Harry Hoag Elementary School.

A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department boat was searching for Healy in the Mohawk River today, and state forest rangers were searching for her on foot, Sager said.

Nancy Ryan, pastor at Fort Plain Reformed Church, said volunteers cleaned out the basements of about 25 homes and businesses as of this morning.

She said about a hundred volunteers turned out to help Sunday, and she was expecting about 150 today.

She said people have been coming from all across the state.

“There are homes totally taken off the foundation” on Reid and Abbott streets, she said.

Water levels rose several feet on the Otsquago Creek and Mohawk River on Friday morning. Flooding from the Otsquago Creek caused much of the damage. Montgomery County was declared a disaster area by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Volunteer Chelsea Coch said this morning she has been working since Saturday making lunches and helping with cleanup on Main Street.

She said the Fort Plain Reformed Church has been handing out MREs, or meals ready to eat, and snacks for volunteers.

“[The flooding] is a very big hit for the village,” Coch said.

Another volunteer, Lisa Trembley, said this morning the flooding has been “absolutely devastating.”

She said residents can go to the village senior center to speak with representatives of Federal Emergency Management Agency. She also said Red Cross vehicles are going through the village offering assistance.

Methodist church in Fort Plain offering cleaning supplies.

Alan Griffith, pastor of United Methodist Church of Fort Plain, said volunteers at his church are helping with cleanup. He said volunteers need gloves, including medical gloves and food-service gloves.

Among the volunteers helping with cleanup efforts in the village this morning were about 10 people from the Brethren Disaster Ministries of Maryland.

The Red Cross said the shelter at the Harry Hoag school is expected to remain open until at least Tuesday. Residents who need Red Cross services may call 458-8111.

On Sunday, Red Cross workers distributed about 260 cleaning kids, about 1,100 individual items, about 300 comfort kits containing hygiene products, and nearly 3,000 snack items.

The Red Cross mobile kitchen remained in operation today at the Harry Hoag school.