Floods ease due to chilly temps

Emergency personnel are breathing a sigh of relief as water levels in Franklin and Essex counties continue to recede due to cold weather, but there are still a few areas of concern.

Franklin County Emergency Services Director Ricky Provost said there were 26 roads closed at the peak of the flooding, but now all county roads and most side roads are passable.

“The trouble spot is the Salmon River corridor,” Provost said, speaking of the waterway that flows through Malone. “Anything that comes into contact with that corridor might still be closed.”

Provost said the amount of road closures is now in the mid-teens, and he expects that number to drop significantly as highway crews work throughout the day.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Provost said. “When it freezes up at night, it really helps us. It gives us 10 to 12 hours for the water to dissipate before we get the high water again. We expect high water because there’s still snowmelt to occur, and the forecast is for 50- and 60-degree days, but I don’t think we’re going to have that big shot like we did on Monday.”

Monday was sunny with temperatures in the 70s, which melted snow and ice quickly and sent it downstream. Wednesday’s high, on the other hand, didn’t even break freezing in the Saranac Lake area.

Provost said the southern end of the county is usually about a week behind the northern half with flooding, so he’s keeping an eye on conditions there. He said Lake Flower is one of the main points he monitors, but the village of Saranac Lake and the state Department of Environmental Conservation are doing a good job of controlling water levels: the DEC with its Lower Locks upstream on the Saranac River, and the village with its Lake Flower dam.

Town of Tupper Lake Deputy Highway Superintendent Derek Foote said he is keeping a close eye on conditions there as well, particularly on River Road.

“We do have water coming over the road on River Road, which is our normal, every year type of a thing,” Foote said. “It’s nothing out of the ordinary. It’s still passable, and we still have local traffic going over it.”

Foote said he expects some additional snowmelt to occur over the next weekend, so he expects the water level to rise.

“It’ll probably get a little bit worse, but hopefully nothing like we dealt with three or four years ago,” Foote said. “We had to shut the road down completely then.

Flooding in the spring of 2011 was considered the most severe in living memory in Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake.

Don Jaquish, the director of Essex County Emergency Services, said all appears to be clear in his county.

“There are no issues today is Essex County,” Jaquish said. “It’s a beautiful sunny day.”

Chris Garrow, head of the Jay town highway department, said roadways are clear with the exception of Cary Road, where there may have been a mudslide. Highway officials were checking on the road’s condition this morning.

Dean Smith of the town highway department in Keene said the East Branch of the AuSable River there is down quite a bit from yesterday, and he reported no flooding. Tuesday saw voluntary home evacuations and road closures in the hamlet of Keene Valley.