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Many Otsego County residents still cannot get into their homes

By GARY LIBERATORE

OTSEGO COUNTY, N.Y. (WKTV) - Many roads in Otsego County remain closed as of Friday afternoon, and many people still can't get back into their homes because they remain surrounded by water.

Otsego County Emergency Services Coordinator Kevin Ritton says the damage in the county is widespread but he says the Village of Unadilla has taken the hardest hit.

Part of Main Street in Unadilla, as well as many of the streets that run off of Main Street, are adjacent to the Susquehanna River, the very river that caused the evacuation of more than 10,000 residents about 45 miles south of Unadilla, in Binghamton.

Jim Gagliardo lives on Church Street in Unadilla. His home is about the fifth house away from the Susquehanna. He was among the many residents evacuated Wednesday evening. He didn't get back onto his street to access the damage until Friday morning. Gagliardo says it was just crazy Wednesday night and says, he really didn't want to evacuate.

"I was going to stay at my house, but they (the firefighters) said they'd give my wife as next of kin, just in case," Gagliardo said.

Another hard hit area of Otsego County is the Village of Laurens. The Laurens Central Central School on Main Street remained closed on Friday, as water was being pumped from the school's basement. Superintendent Ramona Wenck says the school could have opened Friday, but because so many roads remained closed, the Village Highway Superintendent asked the schools to remain closed.

Wenck says she is now looking for a new field for the school's soccer teams to play their home games on this fall. The rains from Tropical Storm Lee washed away a good section of the earth above Mill Creek. Part of that earth made up one corner of the school's field. The fence actually fell with the earth about 20 feet below into the creek.

Also, many homes along Route 28, along Canadarego Lake in the northern part of Otsego County had to be evacuated this week as well. Many of the homes are used as summer housing only, and are all empty, and all surrounded by the water of Canadarego Lake. In some spots, the Lake was still right up to Route 28 as of Friday afternoon.

Ritton says crews are out all over the county repairing roadways that have been damaged, and the roads that are closed will reopen as soon as possible.

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