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Residents evacuate as crews tear down road on verge of collapse

By ANNA MEILER

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) -- A storm that happened three years ago is just now leading to the evacuation of residents on East German Street in Herkimer.

Kathy Penree was handed an evacuation notice Wednesday. She says she's been living in fear for years after noticing cracks in her road and the pavement sinking lower and lower.

"Every night you put your head down and you say okay is tonight the night the road's going to give way, is tonight the night I have to evacuate my home?" said Penree.

Rocks washed downstream by Hurricane Irene in 2011 divert the current to one side of the West Canada Creek, leading to the deterioration of the retaining wall. On Tuesday, engineers realized the road was about to collapse into the water.

"The water line gets sucked into it, the gas line gets sucked into it, the overhead electrical pole falls down," said Dominic Frank, Herkimer Town Supervisor.

Penree and other residents are evacuated while crews remove the road to alleviate pressure on the wall.

"It's just continued to become a real concern and they keep telling us they can't do anything because they don't have the funding. Well, I understand, but the longer you wait the more catastrophic this could become," said Penree.

Frank says removing the road is a necessary short-term solution, but unless the current in the creek is rerouted, residents will be dealing with this problem all over again.

"As a local municipality we have no authority to get into the creek," said Frank.

But before they tackle the creek, they have to figure out how to pay for a new road.

"We've written grants to the state of New York, to the USDA, we have about three or four, maybe four or five potential funding sources. It's probably somewhere between a half a million to a million dollars to fix this thing, but the difficulty is that the situation and the problem is now," said Frank.

Frank says residents will be living with the current conditions for at least a month.

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