Heavy rainfall raised flooding fears

By Geoff Samuels
Last week Tuesday’s heavy rain flooded the Catskills with the unhappy reminder of what happened here just a little more than a year ago.

And anyone watching TV a tad before nine o’clock on Tuesday night, heard not only the torrent coming down outside, but the “beep, beep, beep” and saw a red screen saying “flash flood warning for Margaretville” and “flood crest expected around the 11-foot level with possible flooding in low lying areas.” That warning screen sent an undeniable chill down more than just a few local people’s spines.

Steve Yaekel, owner of Margaretville Liquor, said he had left his store after work that night and noticed that the river didn’t seem to be too high. When he got home and saw the warning on TV he said he found it “disturbing,” and seriously pondered whether he should drive back to the store to check things out.

Sitting at the BUN N’ CONE lunch counter Thursday afternoon, Tony Deluca of Deluca Painting remarked: “People are walking on eggshells around here, the threat is always there.”

Bad memories
Peg Ellsworth, executive director of the MARK Project, when asked how she felt about the flood warning said with a touch of sadness in her voice, “When I saw the water pouring down Vega Mountain that day it almost made me cry. I didn’t think I could go through this again.”

Diane Galusha, communications director at the Catskill Watershed Corporation, was driving home from Bloomville on that Tuesday and had this to say, “The way it was coming down, I knew we were in the bulls-eye. People around here are living on tenterhooks.”

At Thursday night’s monthly Margaretville Village Board meeting, Mayor Bill Stanton told the board that he went to the village park behind the Freshtown at around nine o’clock Tuesday night.

‘Potential’ flooding
“I wanted to check things out where the water first comes in,” he explained, and that while he was out his wife received a call from Steve Finch of the county’s Emergency Services Department who told her that someone had called 911 to report the “potential” for flooding.

She replied to Finch that the mayor was already out there looking things over. At the same meeting, Dave Budin of Del-Sports said he saw the warning on TV and went out to look at the Binnekill behind the Cheese Barrel building. After going out there twice in about 20 minutes, Budin said he thought that the water level appeared to be receding.

Fortunately, Tuesday night the fire siren that would have shaken the community to its very core never went off. The rain ended and the bullet was dodged.

Sigh of relief
Early Wednesday morning one could almost feel a collective sigh of relief seeing that not only was there no water on Main Street, but the East Branch of the Delaware River, although swollen, was within its banks.

Reports of even heavier rains and varying degrees of flooding came in from some communities in neighboring Sullivan County, demonstrating how local these events can be and reminding everyone of the days suffered through last fall, days we all hope never to experience again.