By Eric DurrNovember 5, 2019
HERKIMER, N.Y.--The New York National Guard mobilized 210 Soldiers and Airmen in response to heavy rains and winds that damaged roads and flooded towns in Herkimer County, Halloween night in upstate New York's Mohawk Valley.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo directed the Guard mobilization after winds of up to 60 miles per hour and heavy rain hit the watershed leading into the Mohawk River.
"We saw rain totals of 3.6 inches in Oneida County, 5.2 inches in Herkimer County, and then 5.6 inches in Hamilton County. This created significant flooding in areas downstream, in Utica, in Rome, in Herkimer, in Dolgeville, and a number of other communities," explained New York State Emergency Operations Director Michael Kopy.
There were 240,000 residences and business without power at the height of the storm.
In Herkimer County one individual was killed when he drove his car into a flooded area, got out, and was swept away by the rising waters. A significant section of the village of Dolgeville was flooded and residents were evacuated from parts of the Town of Frankfort.
The governor directed New York National Guard leaders to send troops and equipment to help local governments cope with the post storm cleanup.
"We're going to deploy 200 National Guard troops who are going to help. Many of these situations are still ongoing. There's going to be a lot of debris to clean up afterwards, many of the homes are going to be uninhabitable. So the National Guard will help with that," the governor told reporters.
On Friday, Nov. 1, Soldiers and Airmen began mobilizing at three air bases and several armories. Teams under the leadership of Col. Robert Charlesworth, the commander of the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, arrived at the Herkimer County Emergency Operations Center in the Village of Herkimer on Friday morning to be available to immediate missions and access the situation.
New York National Guard leaders mobilized debris clearance teams from the New York Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse, N.Y. the 109th Airlift Wing in Scotia, N.Y. and the 105th Airlift Wing in Newburg, N.Y. for the mission. The Army National Guard's 204th Engineer Battalion, headquartered in Binghamton, N.Y. was tasked with sending an engineer response team equipped with front end loaders, bulldozers and dump trucks.
General response forces - troops and Humvees, LMTVs, and additional other trucks - who can be tasked with basic debris clearance and traffic control missions-were dispatched from the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, the 53rd Troop Command, the 109th Airlift Wing and the 174th Airlift Wing.
Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York, directed the teams to move at 6 a.m. on Nov. 2 and was on site at the marshalling location in Herkimer when the troops arrived.
A 39-Soldier team from the 204th Engineer Battalion was tasked with cleaning up the debris left behind when the East Canada Creek flooded parts of Dolgeville.
The river breeched a berm that the Army Corps of Engineers built to contain the stream in the 1930s, explained 1st Lt. Andrew Campany, the officer-in-charge of the team working on the project.
"From there it pretty much destroyed the foundations of 16 houses and went right through town, sweeping cars away," he said.
Along with punching a hole in the berm, the fast-moving water left rocks throughout the flooded area after the water receded, Campany said. The engineers brought in two bulldozers and other equipment to rebuild the embankment along East Canada Creeks and removed the debris left by the flooding.
Campany, a resident of the nearby town of Holland Patent and the executive officer of the 204th Engineer Battalion's 827th Engineer Company, said he was happy to be able to help his neighbors out by leading the response.
New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen conducted debris clearance and some road repairs missions in the Town of Frankfort, the Town of Newport, and the Town of Ohio on Nov. 2 and 3.
With the immediate response handled, some general purpose response forces were released on Nov. 3 and 4, while Army and Air National Guard engineering elements remained to handle tasks which required their specialized training and equipment.