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Allegany County roads remain closed in wake of flooding

Repairs to flood-damaged roads in Allegany County could take a matter of days – or up to a month, officials said Wednesday.

County and local roads in three towns sustained heavy damage in the slow-moving thunderstorms that passed through Tuesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo also is investigating a report of a tornado Tuesday afternoon near the Town of West Almond. The trained spotter who reported the funnel cloud at 4:17 p.m. also reported damage along Interstate 86, with many trees down.

A damage survey team from the weather service is in Allegany County, meteorologist Kirk Apffel said. Information about the team’s findings is expected later Wednesday.

County Road 24 in the Town of Grove may not reopen for two or three days, according to Jeff Luckey, Allegany County’s director of emergency services and fire. The road is parallel to Ewart Creek, which runs past the Hamlet of Swain and the base of Swain Resort, a winter sports destination.

“Swain has the most infrastructure damage,” Luckey said. “They have to get the one county road back in shape to even get to the town roads.”

Fallen trees and debris wedged against the bridge across from Swain Resort, sending creek waters over their banks onto County Road 24 and into the resort’s parking lot.

“You couldn’t get to the ski center yesterday,” said Guy R. James, the county’s public works superintendent. “The water was running right down the road.” Celeste Schoonover, an owner of Swain Resort, said water got into Mountainside Inn – two buildings housing a total of eight rental units.

“The bottom floor of both of them is completely covered with a couple inches of mud,” Schoonover said.

“There was no damage to the resort buildings, as far as the lodge or any our infrastructure,” Schoonover said. “We did have quite a bit of damage to our parking lot.”

Other county roads closed because of damage are Route 27B, in the Towns of Granger and Hume, and Route 15B, along the Grove-Burns border. Both were expected to be passable at some point Wednesday.

Several bridges were to be inspected for structural damage, according to James. They include the Middle Road bridge in the Town of Allen, which was underwater when James last saw it; two on Route 27B; and one on Route 24.

Municipal highway crews from throughout the county are helping with cleanup and repairs in the affected towns. “The highway association stepped right up,” Luckey said.

Meanwhile, a state of emergency in the Town of Granger is expected to remain in effect for most of Wednesday.

“Every one of our roads and every county road in our town was flooding,” Town Supervisor Tom Voss said, explaining the declaration. “We had about 15 roads that were closed.”

The town’s highway crew has just two full-time workers and two part-timers. “We didn’t have enough manpower to face it as fast as it was coming,” Voss said.

As of late Wednesday morning, Old State and Botsford Hollow roads remain closed. “All the rest are damaged but they are passable,” Voss said.

Old State Road may reopen later Wednesday, but completing repairs on Botsford Hollow could take from a week to possibly a month, Voss said. An eight-foot metal sluice pipe that channels water from one side of the road to the other must be replaced.

Though only a handful of homes were damaged, the Salvation Army and American Red Cross are helping victims. Luckey said anyone needing assistance should contact their local officials.

Three people were rescued from flood situations Tuesday in the Town of Allen, according to Voss, who’s also a firefighter.

An elderly couple was rescued from their home along County Road 15A, where a normally small creek behind their home overflowed. “They said they didn’t know anything was going on until it was too late to get out,” Voss said.

The man was taken out on a stretcher, to be examined at a hospital after reporting chest pains, Voss said. Two, 200-pound propane tanks floated away from the couple’s property, he added.

And a man was rescued from Jones Pond Campground & RV Park on Old State Road, where water from an overflowing creek got into his camper.

“He couldn’t get out because the water was rushing by so fast,” Voss said. The man was taken to safety via a bucket tractor borrowed from a farmer.