Flooding, tornado prompt state of emergency in Lewis County

Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 3:50 PM EDT
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LEWIS COUNTY, New York (WWNY) - The recent storms that resulted in tornado damage and flooding have prompted Lewis County to declare a state of emergency.

County Manager Ryan Piche says water is now touching the tops of two bridges in the town of Grieg, meaning that both of them will have to undergo full inspections before they can be used again. He says the inspections are expensive.

By calling a state of emergency, Piche hopes the state will release funding to the county. This is to cover public property such as bridges and roads, not personal or private property, he said.

Heavy rain has caused flooding on many waterways in the county including the Independence River and Beaver River.

Piche says the Stillwater Reservoir in Herkimer County is releasing water at an increasing pace because it’s also overflowing. The reservoir is affecting water levels on nearby tributaries.

The state of emergency comes after the National Weather Service confirmed an EF3 tornado carved a 16-mile path of destruction through parts of Lewis County Monday evening.

The tornado damaged areas in the towns of Turin and Lewis.

The National Weather Service reported that 3.9 inches of rain fell in Chases Lake in Lewis County between Monday and Tuesday.

A flood warning from the National Weather Service is in effect until 9:15 a.m. Thursday for the Beaver River in east central Lewis County.

The NWS says recent heavy rain is expected to bring the river’s crest to near or above 6 feet. It says locations that will experience flooding include Croghan, Kirschnerville, Belfort, Soft Maple Reservoir and Beaver Falls.

The following is Piche’s full news release:

Due to the combination of high winds (Turin and Lewis) and now flooding (Greig and Watson), the County has declared a State of Emergency retroactive to 12:01 A.M. Tuesday morning. We are monitoring water releases from the dam at the Stillwater Reservoir in Herkimer County, which impacts water levels throughout Watson and Greig, potentially impacting roads, bridges, and culverts in those areas. The declaration of emergency has been executed and filed with the County Clerk.

The State of Emergency will open Lewis County, and our Towns and Villages, to disaster relief funding if public damage exceeds $110,000. It is important to note that access to funding only applies to public assets. Private residences and businesses damaged during the storm and its aftermath are not, at this time, eligible for relief payments. However, there are disaster funding options available to small businesses through the Federal Small Business Association and USDA. It is my understanding that the State Department of Financial Services has already been in touch with the businesses affected by the tornado in Turin in an effort to connect them with those resources.

See the proclamation below: