Orleans can boast disaster-free weather

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 July 2013 at 12:00 am

Courtesy Gov. Cuomo’s office – The Mohawk Valley was flooded on June 28 after a severe downpour.

ALBION – In was mid-October 2006, when a heat wave followed a snowstorm in Orleans County.

Hundreds of trees, maybe more, snapped from the weight of heavy snow on their leaves and branches. The fallen limbs and trees knocked out power for days.

The melting 2 feet of snow unleashed flood waters. Homeowners, who were powerless, saw their basements fill with water because they couldn’t turn on their sump pumps. (I needed to have my basement in Albion pumped twice.)

That storm is the biggest “weather event” I can recall in my nearly two decades of living around here. We were in a state of emergency with utility trucks and firefighters descending on our county from all over the state. We even had electric workers from Quebec here, working to restore our electricity.

It was a fluke storm. Mostly, things aren’t too bad around here. We don’t have the big extremes that flood roads, creeks and homes.

It seems every year there is at least one community in New York that is devastated from a storm. The Mohawk Valley is the latest casualty of Mother Nature and aged infrastructure. A late June downpour with flash flooding left the region in soggy ruin.

The federal government on Friday declared 12 counties eligible for disaster aid due to the damage from the storm.

Eastern New York felt the wrath of Sandy last year. Binghamton was hit with massive flooding a few years ago. I grew up in Chautauqua County and about five years ago Silver Creek and Gowanda were inundated with water, destroying numerous homes.

“It is a tragedy that so many communities of hard-working, decent New Yorkers have seen their lives turned upside down by the unpredictable and damaging impact of these severe storms and floods,” Gov. Cuomo said Friday when President Obama approved the disaster declaration for the Mohawk Valley.

We don’t have the big extremes around here. The communities have done a nice job upgrading storm sewers and infrastructure, helping to funnel water off the streets when there is big storm.

Occasionally, we get hit with a fluke, but I think we’re safe from utter devastation. It’s definitely a plus during these days of turbulent weather.