Flooding fears in Northern NY trigger state of emergency

Published: Feb. 7, 2019 at 5:24 PM EST
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The town of Jay, New York, is under a state of emergency because of an ice jam on the Ausable River. The declaration was made around 5 p.m. Wednesday. Officials say it could last up to 30 days if needed.

The river hasn't flooded yet, which means no evacuations. Crews planned to work into the night Thursday to keep it that way.

"Big relief, big," said Louis Axtell, who owns Adirondack Mountain Coffee.

Adirondack Mountain Coffee sits right next to the Ausable River and, currently, the 1.3-mile ice jam in it.

Axtell was happy to hear the town declared a state of emergency.

"Going to save many homes upriver," he said.

After that declaration of a state of emergency, the county brought in excavators to remove the ice from the river to keep it flowing.

"I think it's great that we've got the equipment doing the work that needs to be done," Axtell said.

The excavators pulled ice up from the river and knocked down trees beside it. Loaders pushed the ice into piles, where they will stay for the time being. All the work is to alleviate stress below the jam and keep crews safe

"It's so we can stay on the shore and not be in the water," said Chris Garrow of the Essex County Department of Public Works.

It was an early start for those crews Thursday morning; they began digging into the ice at 6 a.m.

"We're bringing lights in, so we'll be here quite a while," Garrow said.

Midday, they had about five machines at the river with more on the way.

"I went out and watched them remove some of the ice and it's pretty spectacular," Axtell said.

On site-- crews and officials from the local and county level from all the way up to the state

"This has been a really great experience seeing them all work together, so, praise," Axtell said.

Working together to prevent the worst possible outcome.

"The name of the game right now is to just try and help," Garrow said.

WCAX News spoke with Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish earlier Thursday and asked what the evacuation plan is if they were to need one. He said they've done this before and plan to use the same plan. They will do a mass notification by going door to door to let people know that it's time to leave. Officials say if you do live on the river to have your bags packed just in case.

If there are evacuations, a shelter will be set up at the Jay town offices as well as the Upper Jay Volunteer Fire Department.