Road to Recovery

FORT PLAIN – Last June 28, heavy rain brought major flooding that destroyed some homes and damaged others, and claimed the life of one resident.

A year later, the cleanup and recovery continues.

Today, the streets are clear of mud and debris, and many of the businesses that were damaged are open again.

Village officials say Fort Plain is back, but signs of the flood are still evident.

Some homes on Abbott and Reid streets, which received some of the worst flood damage, still have condemned signs taped to the front of the houses.

“We made a tremendous amount of progress over last year’s flood, but [some work] still needs to be done for major projects,” village Mayor Guy Barton said.

Last June 28, water rose on the Otsquago Creek by several feet. The flooding claimed the life of Ethel Healey, 87, who lived on Reid Street and whose house was washed away. Hundreds of volunteers came to the village to help with recovery efforts.

Repairs to the village’s drain system, streets and water lines still need to be done, Barton said. Repairs to infrastructure are expected to be completed by September, Barton said.

He said about nine homes that were condemned because of the flooding still need to be demolished.

In May, Barton said between 20 and 30 businesses reopened after the flooding, and at least eight new operations have come to the village.

Gail Adamoschek, River of Jubilee Church pastor and chairwoman of the Fulton-Montgomery Long-Term Recovery Committee, said some homeowners are still repairing their homes and volunteers are still needed.

Pastor Nancy Ryan of Fort Plain Reformed Church agreed.

“That process is ongoing. There are foundations that still need shoring up and fixing. There are still homes that are heavily damaged and need interior work done,” Ryan said.

“Our plan is to keep helping land owners get back into their homes,” Adamoschek said.

Tania Kilmartin, co-owner of the Fort Plain True Value, said the village is coming back.

“There are people who still need help with their house situations and such, but so far, all the businesses are back,” Kilmartin said. “There were customers before, there are still customers now.”

Kilmartin’s store received only minor flooding near the doorway.

John Hart, owner of the Fort Plain Save-A-Lot, was able to reopen the store after floodwaters destroyed much of the store’s products. Since then, he has purchased the Family Dollar and Daylight Donuts next door. They also were damaged in the flooding. He plans to repair and rent those buildings to others.

Adamoschek is optimistic about the future of the village.

“I think [the village] is well on their way back to recovery, because people are back in their homes. A couple are not, and we are pushing to get them back into their homes.” Adamoschek said.

Among the help the village has received since the flood:

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in April $500,000 in state funding is available to help rebuild the Otsquago Creek Bridge in Fort Plain on the Erie Canal Trail. The bridge was destroyed in the flooding.

National Grid in May gave $467,000 to the village and Van Hornesville to help pay for flood recovery. The money is part of the Mohawk Valley Flood Recovery Emergency Aid Economic Program. Tom Wind, regional representative for National Grid, said the money will help offset the costs associated with energy infrastructure repair and replacement; rehabilitation of commercial and mixed-use buildings; and replacement of machinery and equipment.

Cuomo announced in April the state will buy more than 90 flood-damaged properties in the Mohawk Valley. The properties would be used for environmental purposes, stormwater management and flood protection.

Work has been done to mitigate the risks of future flooding.

The state Department of Transportation did work repairing the Otsquago Creek’s shore line. The New York State Canal Corp. has helped install a Flood Warning and Optimization System, which will encompass 27 upstate New York counties, cover 13,000 square miles and include the re-establishment of the Otsquago Creek real-time stream-flow gauge, which would warn of high floodwaters.

Barton said flood sirens will be installed in the village. The sirens are expected to go up near Fireman’s Park and on top of the Fort Plain Village Hall. Barton said the sirens cost $40,000 and were paid for with donations from the William Gundry Broughton Charitable Private Foundation.

In a news release from the Red Cross, Montgomery County Emergency Manager Jeff Smith said, “The progress that has been made working collaboratively to improve our preparedness and resiliency is remarkable.”

The Red Cross has been involved in recovery and preparedness efforts throughout Montgomery County. Angelika Klapputh, Disaster Program manager for the Red Cross, spends part of her time working directly with the county’s Emergency Management Office, the news release said.