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Friday, October 31, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,

Joshua Thomas
Save-A-Lot was completely destroyed in last year's flood. It has since bounced back marvelously, recently adding a weather resistant addition in front.

Joshua Thomas
The Otsquago Creek pictured this week. The low, clear waters don't indicate any signs of impending danger. The creek received extensive work by the NYS DOT following the flood.

Joshua Thomas
The Weber family home, rebuilt on Abbott Street only a few plots down from their flood destroyed property.

Joshua Thomas
Homes remain devastated along Reid Street, their backs bordering the Otsquago Creek. The village is waiting for approval by FEMA to tear down 8-9 condemned homes.

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Fort Plain: One year after the flood

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - Updated: 9:59 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- Saturday, June 28, is the one year anniversary of the devastating Otsquago Creek flood that caused significant damage in Hallsville, Minden and downtown Fort Plain last summer. Work to clean and repair the devastated landscape began as soon as the flood waters receded and hasn't yet stopped. While an incredible amount of work has been undertaken by literally thousands of residents and volunteers, there is more to be done. As the community waits with bated breath for the flood's anniversary to pass without incident, here's a summary of where Fort Plain is today.

Fort Plain Mayor Guy Barton said that work is yet to begin on numerous infrastructure repair projects, many of which await FEMA funding approval. Barton said Fort Plain is waiting for FEMA to issue numerous blue books, "which entitles us to money to pay for these things." Prior to FEMA's funding issuance, the village is required to pay for the extensive projects, which often includes borrowing money with interest.

One such project is the repair of Clinton Avenue Extension. The sliding hill was extensively repaired just before the flood struck. The gigantic retaining rocks placed at the base were dislodged, and "The hill shows some movement again. Currently, a couple holes have developed," said Barton, who noted that he's waiting for FEMA and NYS DOT-issued engineers to survey the damage.

A new underground drainage system will be installed on  St. running from the Beech-Nut cereal plant to the Fort Plain Medical Center. FEMA will fund the project to the tune of $187,000, which includes the replacement of storm drainage piping. The project, said Barton, should take place over the next couple of months.

Repair work is currently taking place on the streets of Fort Plain. On Canal St., in front of NBT Bank, crews have been working to replace shifted bricks and concrete.

"The creek is taking care of the water presently," said Barton of the Otsquago Creek, explaining that extensive NYS DOT work in the creek since last June has "made it workable," though he said that there are spots that still need to be taken care of, where large chunks of stone have washed down from Starkville. He said that stones have also been dislodged from the wall behind the town of Minden barn.

"We're working to try to get them in here and put everything back better than it was before," Barton said of the NYS DOT.

Work will also hopefully begin soon at the Fort Plain Fire Department, where damaged equipment must be replaced, including $2,200 a piece bunker suits. Barton also said that the Little League Baseball Field recently received funding to purchase flood-destroyed equipment, including lawnmowers.

The village is in the process of purchasing two flood sirens, which will each contain a numerous mile radius and a handful of tones, which will each signal a specific disaster. The two systems, which will be installed at the Fort Plain Fire Department and the Fireman's Park, on Route 80, will cost approximately $30,000 to purchase. Barton said the village has exceeded, in donations, the amount required to purchase and install the sirens.

On Abbott, Reid and Dairy streets, and Silk Avenue, there are 8-9 homes that have been ruled "uninhabitable", which must be removed. Some of the foundations have collapsed under the structures. Barton said he's waiting on word from FEMA regarding funding for the approximately $400,000 structure-removal project.

He said, "within the next two months, you should see tremendous movement here from FEMA in reference to the homes that have been condemned."

There are still two homes that the former owners plan to return to that need restoration, which will require help from skilled workers. Volunteers (such as masons and carpenters), said Volunteer Organizer and Pastor Gail Adamoschek, are still needed.

"Most everybody is in their home that wants to be," she said, explaining that the fact that in just under one year, the homes were made inhabitable again, is due not only to the thousands of volunteers, but cooperative government officials and agencies. She said, "There was such cooperation on the governmental level."

"It has come a long, long way," said Adamoschek of Fort Plain, explaining that many volunteers put in over 100 hours helping the village and town bounce back from the flood. 

Adamoschek pointed out that local pastors and churches were instrumental in helping the area rebuild, and now -- one year later -- they've been meeting to implement future disaster preparedness plans so that instead of gathering supplies when a potential storm hits, the supplies will already be on hand, ready to be dispersed.

"We're talking about a huge level of commitment that these people have and continue to have," said Adamoschek. "You have a lot of heart that happens as people reached out to their neighbor -- it's a wonderful story of cooperation, loving each other -- a wonderful example of commitment to a purpose."

While Adamoschek is impressed with the way the community has rebuilt, she said that the people of Minden and Fort Plain are potentially, collectively at a better place spiritually than they were one year ago, stating, "I think there is a higher awareness of community -- a higher awareness of the need to love one another to the point of action, a higher awareness that one person might have a disaster, but everybody can help get that person back to where they need to be." 

Adamoschek continued, "we're all in this together, because we're a community, and what's a community? Not just a town, but it can be a county or a region … we reach out with love to whoever needs some help."

Barton stated, "I thank the people of Fort Plain for everything they've done. All the volunteers have done a tremendous job. The board and myself are very happy with the community, and we take pride in it as much as the citizens do."

The River of Jubilee Church's Adopt-A-Room program is ongoing. The church is asking donors to directly help a flood devastated home by adopting a room. $300 can insulate and sheetrock a 12 by 12 foot room. Adamoschek noted that just this week, supplies have been purchased to rehabilitate numerous rooms.

To donate time or supplies, call Adamoschek at (518) 322-1427.

Joshua Thomas - A condemned home remains on Abbott Street.

     

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