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Heavy rains cause flash floods in Finger Lakes

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PENN YAN — A state of emergency was declared Wednesday in a county in the Finger Lakes region after flash flooding caused by heavy rains forced evacuations and closed roads.

Yates County officials declared the emergency after severe thunderstorms dumped at least 5 inches of rain late Tuesday and early Wednesday in and around Penn Yan village.

“I go back to the 1970s and Hurricane Agnes,” Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike said. “I saw some stuff like that. It’s probably the worst I’ve seen the roads, and a lot of them have been fixed to withstand this sort of thing.”

Spike said Penn Yan and Jerusalem town, to the west, were the hardest-hit areas. The storm hit along the northern end of Keuka Lake, about 45 miles southeast of Rochester, and the sheriff said the emergency included the lake because it was full of debris.

Spike said about two dozen roads were closed because of flooding, and 12 people were at a temporary Red Cross shelter in a Penn Yan school. He said others forced from their homes sought shelter with relatives.

No injuries or emergency medical calls were reported.

“It was just a tremendous downpour, and it was steady, and there was a lot of wind that knocked down power lines,” Spike said. “It really whacked us. We didn’t expect that much of a storm. We just expected a thunderstorm.”

Heavy rains Tuesday also caused flooding in parts of western New York south of Buffalo, and Spike didn’t like the forecast, which was calling for showers and another big storm on Friday.

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