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Sauquoit Creek overflow has residents cleaning up and pointing fingers

By GARY LIBERATORE

YORKVILLE, N.Y. (WKTV) - It was a chaotic scene in many parts of the greater Utica area Sunday afternoon, as people had to be rescued from their homes and even some customers and workers had to be rescued from area businesses.

On Monday, those very homeowners and business owners are cleaning up and trying to dry out. Some are pointing fingers and saying this kind of flooding, maybe, should have never happened.

The shopping plaza that houses Don's Flooring, Tahan's Furniture and Harbor Freight in Yorkville was under several feet of water on Sunday. Al Tahan, owner of Tahan's Furniture says three quarters of his showroom was under water. On Monday morning, cleaning crews were busy trying to dry the showroom out, but Tahan says all of his furniture is insured.

He says something needs to be done to stop this from happening again. Tahan says there's an issue with the dredging of the creek under the bridge that goes across Oriskany Boulevard.

"This creek has become an issue and has been an unresolved issue for all communities all along it, and all the way down here through Whitesboro," Tahan said. "It hasn't been addressed. It's been a difficult coordination between the state and local people. I know the local Town of Whitestown have been doing their best to keep the debris clean under this bridge to prevent this flooding, but they have been stopped at every point. We're trying to get together as many officials as we can to try to come to some resolve, because this is just going to happen again, because there are many businesses and homes along this corridor from Commercial Drive down and New York Mills that are facing this same situation. Truthfully, if we don't get everyone together and correct it, it's just going to continue to happen and its unnecessary."

Whitestown Town Supervisor Charles Gibbs II tells NEWSChannel 2 that the town last dredged the creek this spring after April's storms that caused some flooding. Gibbs says the town, however, is only allowed to dredge up to 20 feet before the bridge. The 20 feet on both sides of the bridge, as well as directly under it, is the State Department of Transportation's responsibility, according to Gibbs. There is no word yet from the state on when the last time they had dredged that area.

Gibbs says there is a Sauquoit Creek Basin Intermunicipal Commission that oversees issues with the creek. The Chairman of that commission is Dave Glenn of Whitesboro. Glenn says his organization is in the process of trying to set up a meeting with the state to address a number of issues.

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