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Flood control exercise shuts down traffic in Herkimer

Traffic was shut down between the Herkimer Thruway and Fifth Avenue for a couple of hours today. It was an exercise to help keep the Village from flood exposure.

Posted: Jul 14, 2021 5:50 PM

Police shut down traffic along Mohawk Street in Herkimer from the New York State Thruway to 5th Ave. The shutdown gave Herkimer DPW workers and the Department of Environmental Conservation a chance to construct a flood retention wall in the event the Mohawk River overflows. D.E.C. Region 6 Flood Control Engineer Richard Coraile was in charge of the event. 

"We try to do it when school is out just because the buses… if we had to reroute all the buses in the Village it’d be a disaster."

Not everyone was paying close attention to the traffic stops.(New York State Police officer: "you didn’t see 2 Troopers, 2 police cars, a red flashing thing, and you drove right around us.") Even if you didn’t get the message to stop, being able to stop the water in a timely manner is important for the residents of Herkimer.

"So the stop log closure is water tight once we set it up, so it would stop the river from coming in, and it’s 6 foot tall, so it has quite a capacity to keep water out. So even if a little water did come over the top of the wall it would stop the majority of the river from damaging all the property that’s on the protected side."

This drill happens about every other year, so even new workers know their part.

"So everybody’s familiar with it in case we have to set it up during a real flooding event where the Mohawk River’s going to enter the Village." The training couldn’t be happening at a better time. (With the water levels being as high as they are, is this now a concern?) "It’s always a concern when it rains this much and the water levels come up because the water’s got nowhere to go."

Flooding in the past is the reason this wall is ready to go, but Village of Herkimer DPW Superintendent Peter Macri says there’s been more progress made to keep the waters from reaching the wall.

"There’s always a concern, but since (2013) 13 and (2017) 17 there’s been a lot more communication between the D.E.C. and Canal Corp. as far as raising and lowering the levels of the canal, so a lot’s been learned over the years."

Traffic has resumed normal travel, but expect to see this crew again in the coming years.

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