Warwick soaked: Roads were closed, basements pumped but Warwick was better prepared for flooding

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:59

WARWICK-Thank goodness it wasn’t snow. Some of the usual places in the village were hard hit last week by seven days of sometimes torrential rain. Overall, though, villagers fared pretty well, thanks to experience gained most recently in the spring. Forester Avenue near Veteran’s Memorial Park washed out, closing the normally busy road for four days, according to Mayor Michael Newhard. In addition, a tree fell there, taking out some pavement. The park had to be closed as well, as pools of water formed throughout. The village had to close its brush pile and the fall household trash drop-off, both in the park, for that weekend. “We will extend the brush pile and trash drop-off for an additional weekend,” said Newhard, noting that residents may bring their brush and household items to the Department of Public Works garage at the park through Nov. 5 and 6. The Park Lane sewers were another story. They overflowed, like they have in the past. This time, though, it took five full days to pump out the sewer. According to Eugene Casey, a resident of the area, the pumping went on 24 hours a day, from Wednesday until Monday. He estimates the cost to the village would total between $30,000 and $40,000. “We should do something to correct this,” said Casey, a retired engineer. Chronic sewer problems have plagued the Park Lane area for several years, especially when heavy rains occur. Last April, flooding caused the sewer to be pumped as well. Newhard said the village is hoping to figure out a strategy before next year’s budget time to fix the Park Lane problem. He said they have their suspicions and village engineers are working on it. Infiltration in the system is a likely culprit, he noted, so it’s not just an isolated area. Something is happening somewhere in the system and the problem comes up at Park Lane. It may make sense, the mayor said, “to take out a low-interest bond anticipation note and pay it off in five years.” Main Street fared better than it did with the big spring storm. Newhard said as the Wawayanda Creed rose, people were ready. “We learned our lesson in the spring,” he said. They didn’t turn off the electricity right away. Instead, they waited it out, which was beneficial to small businesses. Once the electricity is turned off in a building, it cannot be turned back on until all of the water is gone, Newhard said. Last week, that could have meant closing down a business for a solid week. Compared to the April storm when the water all came at once, the water last week crested, then went down before rising again. Shopkeepers were keeping a close watch on that situation. “The water was two and a half bricks below the power box when it stopped rising,” said Michael McDermott, owner of The Bookstore, 20 Main St. The power box for his building is located in the cellar of his next door neighbor, Frazzleberries Gift Shop. “I want to thank Chief Frank Corkum and all the members of the Warwick Fire Department,” he added. “They were pumping out these cellars all night long.” McDermott was concerned about having electrical power for the weekend but not too worried about damage to any inventory stored in his basement. “I lost all of that last April,” he said. The mayor also credited Corkum and his firefithers. “The fire department helped homeowners pump out. They helped business owners, some who were very vulnerable near the Wawayanda. It could have been devastating to small businesses. Chief Corkum saved them a week’s worth of business probably.” Some good news is that the village is going to submit its costs from the storm to the county, hopefully getting some financial relief. “These major weather events are becoming more recurrent,” said Newhard. “It makes us keenly aware of the flooding issues we in a valley can expect.” Parts of Pine Island - where onion farmers had already harvested their crops but sod farmers had just completed their planting - also were flooded. “We’re worried, “ said Warwick Councilman Leonard DeBuck, owner of DeBuck’s Sod Farm. “We’re not sure how this will turn out.” DeBuck explained that sod farmers plant in August and finish planting in September. The young seedlings are more vulnerable than the mature plants were during last April’s flooding. “We have to assess the damage,” he said. “But we can’t do that now because we’re still under water. I hope it drains soon. But it’s not like New Orleans. Nobody died. We’ll recover and move on.” Information for this story was reported by Linda Smith Hancharick and Roger Gavan.