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Flooding causes home evacuations, college closure

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MALONE - The combination of snow melt and heavy rain caused rivers and streams throughout northern Franklin County to rise dramatically Tuesday, resulting in widespread flooding of low-lying areas and many road closures, according to county officials.

Ice floes carried by the rushing waters of the east branch of the St. Regis River knocked out several of the top boards in the Azure Mountain Power Co. dam in St. Regis Falls, causing high water downstream from the dam, according to Waverly Supervisor Michael Bailey.

The damage to the dam may actually have prevented a worse situation, as it allowed water to flow past the dam rather than back up behind it, Mr. Bailey said. The damage also helped relieve pressure on the dam and prevented further damage, he said.

“I’m hoping it peaks tonight,” Mr. Bailey said. “I’m just hoping this is it.”

Water is several inches deep on the South River road, but the road is still passable, he added.

Evacuation notices have been issued to homeowners in Malone along the banks of the Salmon River, the Franklin County Office of Emergency Services reported.

North Country Community College announced on its webpage all three campuses in Malone, Saranac Lake and Ticonderoga closed for the day effective 11:15 a.m. Tuesday “due to flooding in the Malone area and general road conditions.” The Malone campus is located on William Street near an area hard hit by the rising waters.

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, emergency services began notifying residents of Willow, Lafayette and Patnode streets and College Avenue in Malone that evacuation would be necessary. Lafayette Street was covered with several inches of water Tuesday morning, and by late afternoon, water was lapping at the Willow Street bridge. Malone Village Police were on site, redirecting traffic away from the bridge. Howard Street and College Avenue were also closed to traffic due to several inches of flooding across the roads.

County emergency services officials indicated they could possibly be forced to cut electricity to some of the homes affected by the flooding, although no official announcement had been made as of press time Tuesday night.

According to the Franklin County dispatch center, roads closed by high water as of 3 p.m. Tuesday included:

■ College and Willow streets in the village of Malone

■ Willow and Lafayette streets in the village of Malone

■ Lafayette Street and Howard Avenue in the village of Malone

■ College Avenue in the village of Malone

■ Studley Hill Road in the towns of Duane and Malone

■ The dirt section of Cotter Road in the town of Bombay

■ Drum Street at the marina in the town of Fort Covington

■ Webster Street Road from the Fish and Game Club to county Route 41 (Fayetteville Road) in the town of Malone

■ Church St. in front of the St. Regis Mohawk School in Hogansburg

■ McNeil Road in Hogansburg

■ St. Regis Road in Hogansburg

■ River Street in Hogansburg

■ Gray Road in Hogansburg

■ North Street (Church Street) in Hogansburg

■ Mill Street in Hogansburg

■ Pearl Street in Hogansburg

■ A section of state Route 37 in Hogansburg

■ Moose Pond Road in Bloomingdale

■ Cold Brook Road in the town of Duane

Additionally, Hemlock Ledge in the town of Tupper Lake was partially washed out; county Route 14 (Red Tavern Road) in the town of Duane and Cold Springs Road in the town of Bombay were down to one lane; and county Route 41 (Fayetteville Road) in the town of Malone was covered in water but was still considered passable

Also, the town of Brasher was preparing to close North Road at the Franklin/St. Lawrence County line Tuesday afternoon.

Franklin County Emergency Services and Highway Department personnel were continuing to monitor conditions and coordinate response efforts into Tuesday night.

The National Weather Service had issued a flood warning for Franklin County lasting until 5:45 a.m. Wednesday.

The weather service was cautioning people to stay away from flood waters and move to higher ground if threatened by them and to not drive into areas where water covers the roadway. The road may be washed away beneath the water surface, and it only takes a few inches of flowing water to carry away a vehicle. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles, the weather service reported.

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