Fort Plain flood victim’s body found in Canajoharie

FORT PLAIN – Authorities have found the body of a woman who went missing during Friday’s flooding in the village.

The body of Ethel Healey, 87, was found in debris next to Lock 14 in Canajoharie, said Rick Sager, deputy emergency management coordinator for Montgomery County.

Healey, of 34 Reid St., had been missing since Friday.

Authorities said Healey was last seen in her home moments before it was washed away by floodwaters.

The flooding from the Otsquago Creek severely damaged homes and businesses in the village, especially near Abbott and Reid streets.

Sager said this morning emergency crews are concerned about high water again as a result of heavy rain overnight.

He said an evacuation order was in effect for Reid and Abbott streets late Monday and early this morning. He said officials were watching the mouth of the Otsquago Creek for any possible flooding.

Meanwhile, crews of workers and volunteers were busy Monday and this morning cleaning up parts of the village damaged by Friday’s flooding.

Dozens of people on Monday remained in a shelter at the Harry Hoag School in the village.

U.S. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, toured the Fort Plain damage Monday.

Stopping at the Save-A-Lot store, which was severely damaged, Gillibrand said with “storms of the century” coming frequently, flooding has been a problem with the region.

“This community specifically was hit very hard in the flood of 2006,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand asked for donations to help victims, and said she would push for the federal government to declare the area a disaster area.

“[The Federal Emergency Management Agency] is on the ground today,” she said Monday. “We are going to make sure they come over and talk to the store owner.”

If FEMA declares the area a disaster area, further resources would be available to help the village and flood victims.

“This obviously should be deemed a disaster area,” Gillibrand said.

Sager said Cuomo also announced he is seeking FEMA assistance for Fort Plain.

A group of U.S. House members is pushing for President Barack Obama to accept Cuomo’s request.

Many business owners Monday were cleaning out their buildings.

In the plaza on River Street, volunteers and hired crews were cleaning the Save-A-Lot and Family Dollar stores.

John Hart, owner of the Save-A-Lot, said he lost between $700,000 and $800,000 in stock alone.

Jackie Bidwell, Save-A-Lot store manager, said the store is a wreck.

“It’s completely, completely destroyed,” Bidwell said.

Inside the store, the shelves were bare Monday. Many of the shelves were tilted or knocked over. Products were piled in heaps next to water. The floor was coated in mud.

“It’s a total loss,” Hart said of the store as he stood in the doorway.

Local Amish residents were helping Hart with the cleanup Monday. The volunteers carried out destroyed checkout counters and products.

Anthony Josephson, owner of AJ’s Cleanup of Detroit, was next door, supervising a crew cleaning out the Family Dollar store.

Josephson said 6 feet of water entered the store Friday, leaving behind 6 inches of mud.

“I would say it is a total loss, for sure,” Josephson said.

Josephson said he was still assessing the damage.

Organizers of Fort Plain’s annual 4th on the 3rd celebration say the event will be held Wednesday despite the flooding.

“We feel that despite the devastation, the region needs something to celebrate and an event where we can all come together,” James Katovitch, chairman of the Fort Plain Community Activities Council, said in a news release.

Fireworks are planned.