Flood damage in the millions

By DAVID HULSE

Tropical storm Ivan is being called a 100-year flood event, the worst locally since the flood of record, caused by Hurricane Diane in 1955. The National Weather Service said rain amounts varied from three inches in southerly areas to five inches further north and west, but amounts as high as nine inches were recorded. The Upper Delaware River at Barryville crested at 24.09 feet at 3:15 p.m. on September 18, at 20 feet above normal flow, just over seven feet above its flood stage of 17 feet and just under two feet of the August 19, 1955 record flood of 26.4 feet.

As they began cleaning up tens of millions of dollars in damages caused by Ivan, residents of Pike, Sullivan and Wayne counties could take solace in the fact that the storm locally took no lives.

“That was a blessing,” said Sullivan County Emergency Management Coordinator Richard Martinkovic. “We got enough early warning that we were able to get people out of harm’s way,” he added.

Monetary issues were another matter.

Martinkovic said early damage estimates showed Sullivan was hit hard, with damage to some 300 structures causing $8 million in private losses and $11 million in public infrastructure damage.

The towns of Bethel, Cochecton, Delaware, Fremont, Highland, Lumberland, Rockland and Tusten and the Village of Jeffersonville all declared emergencies, as did Sullivan County. Sewer plants in Delaware and Rockland were flooded and must undergo expensive chemical reactivation. Delaware’s highway garage was damaged.

Numerous town and county roads and bridges were damaged or destroyed. Bridges were lost on Old Brook Road and Woods Road in Highland, on Hoffman Road and Tusten Road in Tusten.

County Road 168 serving the Minisink Battleground Park was badly damaged and remained closed this week.

There was extensive shoulder and undermining damage to state Route 97 in Tusten, Highland and Lumberland.

Governor Pataki filed for federal disaster relief on September 23. “Now we’re competing for funding against all that hurricane damage in Florida,” Marinkovic said.

Pike prepares damage estimates

Pike and Wayne counties were added to an already updated federal emergency declaration on September 22.

Pike County Emergency Management Director Roger Maltby said the county and state preparations of applications to get that federal declaration have not emphasized dollar estimates, but needs.

That information was still coming in this week. “I just got a list today from Dingman Township with 38 damaged homes,” Maltby said on Monday.

“There was a tremendous amount of basement flooding, water heaters and furnaces, driveways and septic systems loss. Anything sored in basements [was damaged]. It ran the whole private property gamut,” he said.

With the federal declaration, private property owners can now deal directly with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with claims, Maltby said. “People can call their number, 800/621-3362 and FEMA will assign a case number and work directly with them to arrange damage assessments,” he said.

Ten of 13 municipalities reported highway or bridge damage, and two county bridges will need repair or replacement, he said.

Wayne estimates $1.85 million

Wayne County officials reported that Ivan’s initial $1.85 million in public damage doubled that of a September 2003 storm and reportedly prompted every stream in the county to leave its banks.

The storm was said to have destroyed 10 homes in Starrucca, Scott, Buckingham and Manchester townships and some 30 roads were damaged to the necessity of closure.

The stone arch, Bishoff Bridge in Damascus Township reportedly will need $15,000 to $25,000 in repairs and another $25,000 in repair work is needed on a scour wall at the Balls Eddy Bridge in Scott Township.

With last Wednesday’s addition of 15 counties, 41 PA counties have been approved for disaster relief funding. Additionally, the state has expanded unemployment insurance benefits, extended tax collections deadlines and granted auditing exemptions to financial institutions that waive late loan and mortgage payments in flood stricken counties.

TRR photo by David Hulse
Bill Hofaker III is pictured sweeping water out of the Springhouse Garage. Owner Barry Blaut said he would still be cleaning up without the help that family and friends and volunteers provided. (Click for larger version)