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Warmer weather leads to flooding problems in the North Country


CANTON - As the 2014 spring is at last showing signs of a pulse in the region, flooded roads and basements are becoming an issue.

The National Weather Service put a flood warning in effect for Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, one that runs until 7 p.m. Friday.

While the north country saw rain earlier in the week, much of the flooding has been a result of large amounts of snow melting as temperatures finally jumped over the freezing mark.

“There have been some sporadic areas flooded due to creeks and things like that,” St. Lawrence County Emergency Services Director Michael J. LeCuyer said. “We haven’t had any property damage as far as we’re aware of. We’ve had people calling about flooded basements in Madrid and other areas of the county as well though.”

The National Weather Service said Tuesday that the combination of rain and snow melt would produce “moderate rises in local waterways” and could cause ice jams that could lead to minor flooding in low-lying areas.

Mr. LeCuyer noted that some roads in Canton were closed up until Wednesday morning but he had heard that they were in the process of reopening yesterday afternoon.

“You have a lot of these small streams that because of the rain there is some over run in the areas and a few inches of water overflow the roads. Canton had some of those roads closed but they reopened (Wednesday) afternoon,” he said. “We haven’t gotten into the serious stuff with the rivers because they are still partially frozen over. We did take some phone calls from the Oswegatchie area, which is pretty high.”

The director added that his department was in contact with the National Weather Service yesterday afternoon, and they were able to provide some data with regards to total rainfall.

“We still have quite a bit of snow. We had a conference call with the National Weather Service about snow totals, etc. (Wednesday) afternoon. For the look ahead we’re still looking at potential flooding from streams in the next couple of weeks,” Mr. LeCuyer said. “Most of the county has a water equivalent in snow of three to four inches. This is info from the National Weather Service.”

Norwood’s fire department is one of many in the county that have been responding to flooded basement calls over the past few days.

“We actually just went out to another one. We had three (calls) (Tuesday) and two (Wednesday) to pump out basements,” firefighter William Macintire said. “We get calls each spring because of the snow melting and the water running off. Some people don’t have pumps. It largely depends on the runoff and how quickly the snow melts. The rain the last couple of days has helped with the snow melt but it also contributes to the flooding.”

As the week moves along, water has been receding, according to Mr. LeCuyer. That being said the north country is not out of the woods yet.

“There is also localized flooding in general. This will probably be one of the worst instances in recent memory. The 2011 winter was bad as well due to 7 inches of rain within a five-day period,” he said. “As long as the weather temperatures stay warm, etc. we’ll see most of the snow melt off. As long as we don’t see much precipitation along with it, we should be fine.”

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