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N.Y. woman presumed dead after heavy rain causes flooding

June 29, 2013 at 1:58 AM   |   Comments

ALBANY, N.Y., June 29 (UPI) -- An elderly woman was presumed dead Friday after 3-5 inches of rain created flash floods in central New York to the capital, police officials said.

Fort Plain police said Ethel Healey, 87, refused to leave her mobile home about 6 a.m. when flood waters of Otsquago Creek rose several feet. Family members confirmed to WNYT-TV, Albany, that witnesses reported seeing Healey's trailer swept away.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a disaster declaration for 15 counties hit by storms and flooding.

The New York State Office of Emergency Management was activated by the governor to monitor the impacted areas and to assist counties with ongoing rescue and recovery efforts.

"The state is taking action to provide immediate assistance and support to counties in the Mohawk River Valley, which are experiencing floods," Cuomo said in a statement.

New York State Police deployed a Huey helicopter with divers and an air boat with dive team to assist Montgomery and Herkimer counties. State police personnel were mobilized to various upstate county locations to operate air boats, swift water rescue assets and high-axle cargo vehicles.

The American Red Cross opened several shelters for those with flooded homes. Several homes were moved by the water from their foundations and several mobile homes were washed away.

Dan Hitchcock, town highway superintendent of Johnsburg, said steady rain and run-off from Gore and other mountains pushed aside and undermined roads and bridges.

"We have 94 or 95 miles of road and pretty much all of them have been effected," Hitchcock told WNYT-TV. Roads were washed out and at least one bridge was gone.

The Erie Canal from central New York to Waterford was closed.

"Two years ago we had massive storms. These 50-year, 100-year occurrences happening every couple of years is a bit much," Ron Vanselow, town supervisor of Johnsburg, told WNYT-TV.

"If this falls under Federal Management Emergency Administration, this is going to be the fourth time I filed for FEMA in the last five years," Hitchcock said.

Western New York also was hit by flooding. Northern Erie County had some flooding, but Niagara County, especially Lockport, had significant flooding.

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