Monday, February 15, 2021

Progress made in Hamilton County following 2019 Halloween Storm

Since the Halloween Storm raged through Hamilton County on October 31, 2019, excellent progress has been made to mitigate damage.  In the wake of the storm, departments worked unceasingly to make roads passable.  Then, they spent the spring, summer, and fall repairing infrastructure and stabilizing streams.  Work continues, with more projects on tap for 2021.

Greg Boyer, Hamilton County Department of Public Works Road Supervisor II, reported that when the storm first hit, crew members spent countless hours making the roads passable.

“Crews were fabulous as far as getting together to get the work done, and making roads accessible for people to get in and out of their houses,” Boyer said.  “Everyone worked together really well.”

The Hamilton County DPW completed the following flood mitigation projects:

  • Glimantown Road, Wells was reconstructed and the pavement base layer was completed. This year, it will be topped.
  • Griffin Road, Wells was reconstructed, raised, and the road’s base and top were completed.
  • Algonquin Drive, Wells was completed with pavement base and top layers.
  • The sidewalk at Algonquin Bridge, Wells was shored back up, and dirt was replaced along the bridge abutment.
  • Most bridges in Benson and Wells were re-gunited (supported) where water scour occurred.
  • South Shore Road, Lake Pleasant was reconstructed, and the road’s pavement base and top layers were completed.
  • Fish Hatchery Brook, Lake Pleasant was raised up as far as the gravel, paving was completed, and the culvert was sealed.

Partnerships were essential to mitigate damage caused by flooding that utterly ignored municipal boundaries.

Hamilton County DPW operators rechannel a section of Elbow Creek and remove deposition with an excavator and loader

“There exists a solid and on-going relationship and partnership between the municipalities, the county, and related state agencies when help and cooperation are needed to accomplish damage repair and make the area accessible for its residents and first responders,” said Don Purdy, Hamilton County Emergency Services Director.  “After the flooding and devastation of the Halloween Storm of 2019, it was incredible to see just how quickly washed-out roads and bridges were opened and made passable. Crews were working around the clock in many instances to affect repairs that would get traffic moving and enable fire departments, ambulance squads, and law enforcement agencies to serve and protect their communities.”

Lake Pleasant Superintendent of Highways Randy Lavarnway reported that the crew was very busy repairing most of the roads in the town this past spring and summer. Although most, but not all, had mitigation included in the repairs, the larger projects that involve the most mitigation are still to come in future years.  Lavarnway estimated that 300 – 400 employee and machine hours have been spent replacing small culverts with larger ones and stoning ditches and banks so they do not wash as easily.

The Lake Pleasant Highway Department completed the following flood mitigation projects:

  • Fish Mountain Road is having a bridge span installed instead of a culvert/arch. This will substantially reduce restriction of flow for the next 100-year storm.
  • The Fawn Lake Road triple culvert is being removed and replaced with a single large squash culvert, adding to greater volume capabilities and less restriction.

“The impact of the storm on infrastructure is simple,” said Lavarnway.  “When you try to leave your house and the roads are washed away and your power is out and the phones don’t work, you realize just how important the people are that take care of these things on a daily basis.”

The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District provided over 500 hours of Halloween Storm flood mitigation assistance.  Services included:

  • The completion and submission of 30 permits to Department of Environmental Conservation, Adirondack Park Agency, and United Stated Army Corps of Engineers that allow for damage mitigation and repair.
  • The District’s Board of Directors approved the purchase of a Trash Pump that was used for bridge abutment protection. The machine pumps water away from the bridge abutment, allowing highway crews to repair scouring.  Repairs were completed on Four Mile Bridge in Morehouse and Hatch Brook in Benson.

    Hamilton County DPW operators remove a large rock to improve water passage in Elbow Creek

  • Responded to requests for assistance from municipalities.
  • Worked to ensure that projects met all state and federal regulations for channel passage.
  • Properly sized culverts per stream hydrology.
  • Partnered with the Hamilton County Department of Public Works and county engineer Andy Bell to determine bank full width dimensions that allow for the proper placement of abutments resulting in the best passage of water with minimal impacts to the stream.
  • Began work on flood plain and stream restoration projects.

“Flood mitigation is in the preliminary stages, and it will take multiple years to repair damage,” said District Technician Lenny Croote.

The Halloween Storm of 2019 caused extensive damage throughout Hamilton County, and threatened public safety and infrastructure.  In the hours and days that followed the storm, departments came together to swiftly make roads passable.  In the years to come, partners will continue to work as a team to complete flood mitigation projects and fully repair infrastructure.

The District has been working to manage and promote the wise use of natural resources in Hamilton County since 1965.  For more information go to www.hcswcd.com or call 518-548-3991.

Photo at top: An Indian Lake Highway Department operator removes deposition from a tributary flowing into Indian Lake

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Caitlin Stewart is Conservation Educator at the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (HCSWCD). One of HCSWCD’s largest programs is their Invasive Species program and Caitlin will be sharing her field experiences, as well as the efforts and results of forest surveys, and monitoring and management.

Caitlin has deep roots in Hamilton County as both her grandparents purchased property on Sacandaga Lake and Lake Pleasant in the 1960s. Her parents met and were married in Lake Pleasant, and she spent summers and vacations there. She’s been a full time resident since 2008 and is an avid hiker, skier, paddler, runner and biker.




2 Responses

  1. Pete says:

    Not ‘essential’ but I am looking forward to a repair of the road to the Pillsbury trailhead. Starting from Sled Harbor makes it a long walk instead of a quick hike.

  2. Steve Stofelano Jr. says:

    This is a great example of partnerships to repair the damage that was done certainly, and thank you to HCSWCD and all the other agencies. There are still many questions to be asked and work to be done to mitigate future devastation.
    What has is being done to engage even more state, local, county and federal resources and experts to mitigate future destruction not only to municipal properties but residential properties? In particular, Lake Algonquin, in actuality the dammed Sacandaga River, is on the receiving end of the 265 square mile watershed to the north, originally built for recreational purposes in 1929, is serving more as a flood control mechanism…or not. It was touch and during the 2019 flood.
    Many dozens of homes, seasonal and year round were damaged to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars (little is known of any FEMA/SBA relief to these folks), relocating is not an option. Relocating would cost the towns thousands of dollars in property taxes, essential to town budgets.
    Again, the work done by all has been necessary, well done and essential partnerships, thank you!
    Much more needs to be done.

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