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Colton firefighter Shawn A. Wright stands in the doorway of the Masonic Temple in Colton Tuesday as water is pumped out of its basement. JASON HUNTER • WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES

Flooding prompts state of emergency declaration for St. Lawrence County

Rising floodwaters across St. Lawrence County prompted county Legislature Chairman Jonathan S. Putney to declare a state of emergency Tuesday afternoon.

Several roads and bridges were closed because of flooding Tuesday in Winthrop, Brasher, Stockholm and Fine.

The towns of Brasher and Stockholm also have declared local states of emergency because of flooding along the St. Regis River.

Among the closures is a portion of County Route 53, just outside the hamlet of Brasher Falls. The area is frequently under water in the spring when the St. Regis River overflows its banks.

“There’s three feet of water or more over portions of the road,” county Deputy Fire Coordinator Frank W. Burns said. “I’ve never seen it that high there before. Luckily for us, the ice went out two days ago. You can plan all you want, but you can’t stop Mother Nature.”

Mr. Burns said he also was aware of reports of flooding on North Road and in the Hogansburg area. A portion of Barnage Road in the town of Lawrence and the Days Mills Bridge on County Route 49, Hopkinton, are closed. Route 11C in Brasher Falls was closed Tuesday evening. Flooding previously had closed portions of County Route 15 between Heuvelton and Rensselaer Falls, Route 58 near its intersection with Route 184 in Pope Mills and portions of County Route 3 in Rossie and County Route 7 in Macomb.

The Route 420 bridge south of Winthrop is closed as water is rising along the west branch of the St. Regis River, Michael J. LeCuyer, director of St. Lawrence County emergency services, said in a news release.

The South Edwards dam in Fine activated its emergency action plan, and Brookfield Renewable Energy has operators on site to monitor the dam.

The biggest concerns are the Oswegatchie and St. Regis rivers, but the Raquette and Grasse rivers could become greater concerns as 1 to 1.5 inches of rain was expected Tuesday, Mr. LeCuyer said.

“Any communities that reside along any of the rivers in the county could be affected,” he said. “There’s a chance that it could slow down tomorrow as it’s supposed to be colder and the rain should stop.”

He said no evacuation plans have been issued for any of the towns and the area dams are doing all they can to minimize the water levels.

“Brookfield is doing the best job they can,” he said.

Town of Fine Highway Superintendent Roger S. Folson said the town’s biggest concern is where the Little River crosses Youngs Road near Star Lake.

“It’s at the max right now,” he said. “Any higher and it’s going to take out the road.”

Mr. Folson said it’s a dead-end road that hasn’t washed out in more than 35 years.

He also said the north tower of the Wanakena Footbridge tipped over and is lying on the ground. He said the footbridge already suffered ice damage in January, when the tower partially collapsed.

Officials have asked travelers to use an alternative route if they come across flooded roads.

Johnson Newspapers writer Ryne Martin contributed to this report.


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