Irene hits Whitehall

W hitehall emerged from Hurricane Irene relatively unscathed following torrential rains that caused rivers throughout the area to overspill their banks resulting in widespread flooding throughout the region.

Although some roads leading into the community were closed Monday morning and several areas in town were under water, local officials were describingWhitehallas lucky after the community avoided the worse brunt of the storm.

“We had no power outages that I know of and there was minimal tree damage,” Highway superintendent Louis Pratt said. “We pretty much got lucky.”

Pratt said highway crews had to close three streets in town:Cemetery Lane,Gray Laneand Upper Turnpike, butCemetery Laneand Upper Turnpike reopened later in the day on Monday.

He saidGray Lanewas a bit more problematic and he was going to have the county inspect the road and insure its safety before he permitted the public back on the road.

County Route 12 was closed from the vicinity of the village line all the way to the southern end of Hatch Hill Road Sunday evening and Monday morning after the Mettawee River rose more than seven feet above flood level.

Low lying fields along Route 12 were completely submerged Monday morning and the area looked more like a shallow sea than bucolic farmland. 

George Armstrong who grows and sells a variety of produce said his one of his gardens was part of the river Monday, destroying several fall crops.

One motorist who was on his way to get an insurance quote after a tree landed on his mother’s car said it was the worst he can recall seeing the Mettowee River.

In the village, the Elks Ball Field and Playground sat under a couple feet of water, effectively canceling Monday evening’s annual Soccer Shoot and several trucks were parked alongRozell Way, presumably unable to pass through the water over spilling the road.

The canal was also high, flowing several feet above normal and requiring crews to open Lock 12 to allow water to empty into the lake, and most of the properties along North Williams Street had anywhere from several inches to a few feet of water in the backyards, but nothing as severe as this spring’s flooding.

However, for the most part,Whitehallavoided the worst of the storm.

Other than a tree that fell near Supervisor Richard Gordon’s house, there were few reports of wind damage and most people didn’t lose power.

Police Chief Matt Dickinson said his department wasn’t very busy with storm-related issues and that all the roads in the village remained open.

Tim Lang, an officer with The Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company said the department had approximately 20 calls between Sunday and Monday, many for basement pump outs and several for downed trees.

“Most of the calls were for your basic water emergencies,” chief Bryan Brooks said.

Marcinda Wilbur,Dresden’s town clerk said the town seemed to avoid the worst of the storm as well.

“Compared toRutland, or any of theVermonttowns, we fared pretty well,” she said. “There was minimal damage. Some trees were reported down and a few people lost power, but the road crews were out all day keeping the roads clear. The preliminary reports are we fared well.”

Huletts Landing, however, didn’t fare quite as well.

Misty Herlithy said there numerous trees down and many people in Huletts Landing were without power. They were also reports that theEichlervilleBridgewas closed.

But it appears Granville may have been effected greater than other communities. 

Several members of the Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company were busy lending a helping hand to their neighbors in Granville. President Brian Brooks said the company’s fire police were called to the intersection of Route 22 and 149 in thevillageofGranvillewhere water from theIndian Riverhad caused the intersection and several nearby businesses to flood.

In fact, Granville was one of the communities hit hardest by the storm. Dozens of homes were evacuated; streets throughout the village were flooded and several bridges throughout the village were closed pending safety inspections.

Zappone Chrysler Dodge lost more than 100 vehicles after waters rose to their windshields, McDonald’s had upwards of 3 feet of water in the restaurant, The Slate Valley Museum, which sits on the banks of the Mettawee was closed indefinitely, and the Little League Fields, several hundred feet downstream from the museum, were better suited for fishing and swimming lessons than baseball games.

Lang said members of the WVFC spent a good part of Monday helping pump out basements in Granville.

Flooding was also reported along the Hoosic andBattenkillRiversin the southern portion of the county and officials inVermontwere calling it the worse flooding in the state in a century.

Tens of thousands of people, many inWarrenandSaratogacounties lost power during the storm. The number could have been much higher but the high winds that were forecasted to hit the area, never materialized.

“I think the fact that we are in a valley helped shelter us from some of it,” Lang said.

Hurricane Irene, which was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it arrived inNew York, ravaged states up and down the east coast. Nearly two dozen deaths have been contributed to the storm as of Tuesday morning, but none were reported in upstate New York.

The Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company did have to rescue a woman who got stranded on an island in the middle of the Mettawee River on Upper Turnpike Road, but than some shaken nerves, she was alright.



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