Floods Prompt St. Lawrence County To Declare State Of Emergency

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St. Lawrence County has declared a state of emergency due to flooding.

Four rivers in the county, the Oswegatchie, St. Regis, Grasse and Raquette, are expected to crest overnight Tuesday into Wednesday.

The disaster declaration, which will remain in effect no longer than five days, paves the way for federal disaster aid if certain criteria are met.

It also helps the county get extra resources if they're needed.

The towns of Brasher and Stockholm have issued emergency orders.

There had been no evacuations as of Tuesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for St. Lawrence County.

A number of roads and bridges remained closed across the county.

Tuesday night, the Route 11 C bridge in Brasher was closed. The Brasher Fire Department split manpower and stationed firefighters on each side to cover each side of the bridge.

The National Grid substation on County Route 53 in Brasher is partly underwater.

National Grid shut down power for about ten minutes Tuesday evening to work out a solution. 

Workers were trying to figure out how to get a line from Potsdam to houses fed by that substation.

This is in case National Grid has to shut down power at that substation because of worsening flooding.

Church Street in Pyrites is closed because of flooding on the Oswegatchite.

Earlier in the day, it was an eerie but breathtaking scene as hundreds of thousands of gallons of water flowed over Brookfield Power's South Edwards Dam.

The high water levels prompted Brookfield to activate its emergency plan with operators on site to monitor its status should the dam be compromised.

"They've assured me that the dam structure itself is sound," said Michael LeCuyer, St. Lawrence County Emergency Services director.

For now, the concrete dam appears to be holding its own, but the Oswegatchie River is continuing to rise.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the county, flood waters from the surging west branch of the St. Regis River forced the closure of the State Route 420 extension bridge.

Volunteer firefighters worked tirelessly to fill sandbags to help prevent the rising river waters from flooding several homes.

"We've got about half a dozen houses in the immediate area that are in danger of flooding. Right now we're trying to prevent major loss of anyone's personal belongings," said Ryan McCuin of the Brasher-Winthrop Fire Department.

As sandbags were placed around Jackie Cayea's Winthrop home to protect it from the severe floodwaters, all she could do was hope the family wasn't evacuated and any damage would be minor.

"Scary. I can't even put into words what it's been like," said Cayea.

A section of County Route 53 outside Brasher Falls looked more like a river itself than a highway after being covered by several feet of water that also threatened a National Grid power substation.
 
A state of emergency remains in effect in St. Lawrence County as residents are being advised to be aware of river conditions while motorists are being advised to turn around if they encounter water over any roadway.

Sunday, December 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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