Poughkeepsie… “The storm has passed, but the clean-up has just begun,” said Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus. The County Executive was in Eastern Dutchess today, surveying flood damage and clean up efforts with Harlem Valley leaders, Town of Amenia Supervisor Janet Reagon and Town of Dover Supervisor Jill Way as well as local fire, EMS and highway staff. The Executive was accompanied by Dutchess County Emergency Response Coordinator John Murphy.
In addition to time Monday night at the 911 Emergency Operating Center, Steinhaus was on the road until midnight Monday including inspecting Wappinger Creek at the Bleachery in the Village of Wappingers Falls and the Rt. 9 Fishkill flooding, as well as areas of East Fishkill, LaGrange, Pleasant Valley and Town of Poughkeepsie.
Municipalities across Dutchess County have sustained damage due to the intense storm system. Under the direction of County Executive Steinhaus, the Department of Emergency Response has been working with Dutchess County Sheriff, New York State Police, New York State Department of Transportation, American Red Cross, Public Works Highway Department as well as other Dutchess County departments and local municipalities to coordinate storm clean up efforts.
Eight towns and villages remain under emergency declarations including Towns of Amenia, Dover, Fishkill, Hyde Park, Poughkeepsie, Pine Plains, Pleasant Valley and the Village of Wappingers Falls.
“I have been inspired and impressed by the efforts of all our responders, especially by the hundreds of local volunteers,” said Steinhaus.
The Dutchess County 911 Dispatch Center has handled over 950 dispatches in the last twenty four hours. Area professional and volunteer fire departments remain very active in removing water from buildings and homes. High water remains a major concern in areas prone to flooding. Many roads in several towns throughout the county have been closed or have restricted travel due to flooding, wash outs, shoulder erosions and other damages. Most notable of these roads are the Taconic State Parkway and State Rte. 9 in the Town of Fishkill. Drivers are urged to exercise extra caution when driving. A current road closure report is attached. The Executive emphasized most importantly, “We urge motorists to slow down and beware of missing shoulders and other road damage that may be especially difficult to see at night.”
While County resources are limited and also in great demand for county responsibilities, County Executive Steinhaus has also directed county engineers as well as public health workers to reach out to municipalities and offer assistance. Engineers have been reviewing bridges, culverts and roadways for structural issues and to ascertain what repairs need to be made in the immediate short term as well as the long-term. Public health workers have been providing guidance relevant to water and sanitation issues.
All county residents and business owners are cautioned to remain vigilant to protect their health and safety in the aftermath of the recent flooding. As people return to their homes and begin clean-up efforts, the Commissioner of Health Michael Caldwell has provided health & safety guidelines including how to handle possible water contamination, food safety, sanitation & hygiene, mold growth prevention and safe household clean-up. “In particular, residents need to take the proper precautions to ensure the safety of their drinking water, as water sources may be contaminated as a result of flooding,” said Caldwell. The full list of guidelines is attached and can also be accessed at http://www.dutchessny.gov/.
County Executive Steinhaus urges residents to exercise caution and said, “Think safety first! It is very important to remain alert to the hazards in storm-damaged areas. If you are returning home to a flood-impacted area, follow the guidelines that we have recommended to keep you and your family safe and healthy.” He also encouraged residents to think about their neighbors who may be in need of assistance. “If you know of someone with special needs, please check on them, if you can, in case they might need assistance.”
The Dutchess County Emergency Management Office has made a formal request to the State of New York for damage assessment teams to be deployed here in order to qualify for potential reimbursement under federal declaration. Residents and building owners are strongly encouraged to document and photograph any losses before the assessment teams arrive. All costs related to protective actions and contractual services such as cleaning companies should be tracked and kept close by. All documented damage should be report to your town, village, or city clerk. It is also important to notify your insurance company immediately to file claims. Additionally, all municipalities within Dutchess County are also strongly encouraged to document all costs and expenses related to this major event. This includes all departments within town, village and city governments. Police, Fire, Building, and other departments should report their expenses to the head of local government. More detailed information is being provided to local governmental offices.
Click HERE for health and safety guidelines (.pdf)
Click HERE for road closures (.pdf) as of 5:00 p.m. April 17, 2007