Saranac Lake flooding possible

SARANAC LAKE – Shoreline property owners on Lake Flower and the Saranac River, both in the village and downstream of it, were warned this morning to prepare for localized flooding today as the state will release a “large amount” of water from its dam on the river.

Mayor Clyde Rabideau said he had a conference call this morning with state Department of Environmental Conservation officials, who operate the dam and Lower Locks on the river upstream of the village.

“They have a significant amount of water upstream at their dam at the locks,” the mayor said. “We are coordinating right now with them. They want to open their floodgate another 6 inches. So there’s a lot of water that will be released from the locks.”

The village plans to “match DEC blow for blow” and open its floodgates on the Lake Flower Dam the same amount, said village Sewer Plant Operator Kevin Pratt. The gates were already open 66 inches this morning, and the water level of Lake Flower was 15 inches over the dam’s spillway, up 2 inches since Tuesday morning.

Rabideau said the village has been releasing all the water it can from the dam, but it also doesn’t want to flood out property owners who live downstream from the village. The mayor said the village has been monitoring three high-water checkpoints: at the former Dew Drop Inn building on Broadway, next to the Coin Wash Plaza on Woodruff Street and at the Moose Pond Road bridge in Bloomingdale.

Pratt said the state’s release of more water will happen sometime this morning, and the village will follow suit. The village has asked Franklin County Emergency Services to make reverse 911 calls to property owners on Lake Flower and the Saranac River, alerting them of the potential for localized flooding. Village employees and members of the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department will also go door to door to notify the same people, Rabideau said.

Rabideau said he received a call this morning from an official in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, asking if there were any flooding concerns in the village.

“The governor’s office wanted to make sure that we’re OK with the dam and that the state is doing all it can to assist the village,” Rabideau said. “I told them we were in constant communication with Bob Stegemann, the (DEC) Region 5 director, and his lieutenant, Doug McCabe.”

Pratt said he’s never seen water levels so high this late in the year.

“Usually it’s just the opposite; there’s people chasing me down wondering why there isn’t enough water in the lake,” he said.