Arkville community hit hard
By Brian Sweeney
Approximately 30 families in Arkville likely lost their homes during Sunday’s devastating flooding.
The entire Pavilion Road was wiped out, with many mobile homes along this stretch being swept away or heavily damaged as a torrent of water from the nearby Dry Brook stream raged throughout low-lying portions of the hamlet.
A number of homes in the center section of Arkville along Route 28 were also hard-hit by the flooding, as were several houses along Frank Street. Mountain Laurel Gardens, a housing complex on county Route 38 for senior citizens and income-eligible residents, was also surrounded by water.
The area above the Railway Laundry is significantly higher than much of the hamlet and was largely spared from flood damage.
Arkville Fire Chief Robert Sweeney said he was notified by the Delaware County Emergency Operations Center about 6:15 a.m. that the Dry Brook Stream would be over its banks by 8 a.m.
AFD volunteers immediately began evacuation proceedings, but had to race against the clock as the water broke free from riverbanks much faster than emergency personnel had predicted.
“It came really fast. The current was unbelievable,” Chief Sweeney recalled.
Most residents were evacuated before the flood had reached their homes, but about half-a-dozen residents were escorted by fire personnel across swift waters.
By evening, approximately 50 residents had been moved into an evacuation center set up at the firehall. Others were transported to a similar shelter at the Margaretville Methodist Church.
Because the flood cut off the center of the hamlet, there was no ambulance service available and AFD emergency personnel had to administer oxygen to two residents who could not be taken to the hospital.
The community has only one well as a water source, located at the end of Pavilion Road. Because of possible contamination, district residents are being notified to boil all water from the system.
Once rescue efforts were completed, the firefighters turned much of their attention to tasks such as securing runaway fuel tanks, pumping basements and helping to direct traffic along Route 28.
“It’s just really sad. I’ve never seen it scour out the ground like that. The force of it was unreal,” the AFD chief stated. “It’s much worse then the 1996 flood.”
Railroad off track
The Delaware and Ulster Railroad in Arkville was unscathed by the flooding — at the depot. The organization’s parking lot was badly damaged and the D&U’s track was extensively washed out in some sections, shutting down the tourist railroad.
Executive Director Dave Riordan said a total of about six miles of track (in various areas) were decommissioned by the flooding, including four serious situations.
Work has already commenced for repairing the damage. Mr. Riordan said he’s hopeful to be back up and running before the end of the season in October.
“I’m ready to open, but there’s no place to go,” he lamented.
On a positive note, the 26-mile Catskill Scenic Trail for bike riders, walkers and horseback riders between Roxbury and Bloomville sustained little storm damage, Mr. Riordan said.