Mudslides close roads in county

FONDA – Montgomery County was under a state of emergency this morning after heavy rain caused flooding, mudslides and a rockslide, forcing the closure of several roads.

Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Jeff Smith said this morning no injuries were reported due to the storm.

Smith said a boil-water order was in effect today for the village of Canajoharie because of problems at the village water plant related to flooding.

Village Mayor Francis Avery said the village shut down the water filtration plant and was using water this morning from the Smith Street reservoir. He said because the Smith Street water is chlorinated, the village is asking that all drinking and cooking water be boiled before it is used.

Avery said the village expects to have the filtration system running by Sunday, but said the water needs to be tested in Gloversville before the village can allow residents to use it. He said the village should have the system ready for residents by Tuesday.

Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort declared a state of emergency at 10:45 p.m. Thursday. The county was requesting that no unnecessary travel take place. The village of Fonda was under a state of emergency as well.

Smith said drivers should avoid Route 5 so work crews can continue cleanup efforts along the road. He asked that motorists use Route 5S or the New York State Thruway instead.

“The less traffic we have, the easier it is for our DPW crews to get out there,” Smith said.

Flooding and mudslides forced several road closures in the western part of the county.

Smith said DPW crews were working throughout the night to clean up roadways and get them reopened.

Route 5 between Palatine and Fonda was still closed this morning because of a rock slide.

A mudslide was reported on Route 5S between Sprakers and Canajoharie. Another mudslide was reported on Old Fort Plain Road in the town of Canajoharie.

The Emergency Operations Center at the Montgomery County Annex Building on Park Street in Fonda was flooded with an inch or two of water on the floor. The county has been looking into relocating the center to the Sheriff’s Office on Route 5S in part because of past flooding problems.

Smith said the rain caused the storm drains to back up, causing basement flooding.

The Department of Public Works office in the village of Canajoharie flooded as well. Avery said the building is full of mud and muck but can be washed out.

Smith said he hopes to have all county roads reopened by this evening, but he could not guarantee that.

He said the state of emergency will not be lifted until all major roads are clear and the county has been able to assess the damage.

Avery said this morning he hoped to have the village roadways cleaned up soon.

“Give us two to three days and you won’t notice the difference,” Avery said.

Numerous area fire departments were out this morning helping to pump out homes in the area. A few departments from Fulton County were helping with emergencies as well, officials said.

Meteorologist Ian Lee with the National Weather Service in Albany said Montgomery County received between 2.5 and 4.5 inches of rain Thursday, with Fonda getting 4.35 inches.

Lee said showers are expected today, but no heavy thunderstorms were expected.

The flooding also forced the closure of a 65-mile stretch of the Erie Canal and forced the Thruway to temporarily close Exit 29 at Canajoharie and 45 miles of the highway. The ramps were reopened late Thursday night after being shut down for about 90 minutes.

The state Canal Corp. issued an advisory at 7:30 a.m. today notifying mariners the Erie Canal in the Mohawk River was closed because of high water levels between Locks E-7 at Vischer Ferry on the Saratoga-Schenectady county border to Lock E-17 at Little Falls in Herkimer County.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.