Stories surface of rescues, flooding from Thursday’s rains

A number of people had to be rescued from the Walmart store in Cortlandville Thursday night after they couldn't escape rising waters. The flooding had gone down by Friday morning. /Photo by BRENDAN CALLAHAN

Stories surface of rescues, flooding from Thursday’s rains

Check out all of our photos from Thursday night’s flooding: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.572830702759717.1073741836.161649480544510&type=1

Flooding at the Hangar Theatre: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.572551792787608.1073741834.161649480544510&type=1

UPDATE: 9:45 A.M. 8/9/13

Flooding caused plenty of problems throughout the area Thursday night and Friday morning.

It got so bad in Cortland County that authorities issued a travel advisory, which was then lifted hours later. Crews had to rescue people from a flooded-out parking lot at the Walmart in Cortlandville. Standing water was visible inside the store for a time Thursday night.

Cortland County Undersheriff Herb Barnhart says they also got people out of a local nursing home as well.

“The Walden Oaks Nursing Home, they went into their emergency preparedness plan, and we evacuated 70 residents from there to the Cortland Nursing Home,” said Barnhart.

Lee Shurtleff heads the Tompkins County Department of Emergency Response. He says they’ve received reports of where the heaviest rains came down Thursday night.

“My understanding, in talking to the National Weather Service late (Thursday) night, was that their radar indicated the heaviest rainfall had occurred in the town of Enfield,” he said. “In some places, five inches came down in a short period of time.”

The rain led to dangerous conditions for emergency responders throughout the area, including Ithaca Fire Lieutenant Tom Basher, who described a rescue call on Enfield Falls Road Thursday night.

“The water was so bad that we had life jackets on at one call,” Basher said, “because the water was moving so fast while we were trying to get to the occupants to see if they were ok.”

The parking lot to Ithaca’s Hangar Theater was also flooded Thursday night, even as people were at the venue for a show.

Former Tompkins County Legislator Michael Koplinka-Loehr was there, and came out to find water inside of his Prius.

“In the middle of intermission, people were getting calls on their cell phones about flood watch, flood watch, flood watch,” he said. “So, there was no consideration at that moment to go out and check my car, and unfortunately, after the second act, it was already too late.”

The lobby to the theater also sustained some water damage from heavy rains and floods.

Authorities are still warning that if you come across an area that is flooded or has debris, turn around and take another route.

Cornell Police have also issued warnings for high water levels in area gorges.

As of 9:45 a.m. Friday, temporary closures at gorges included:

–Cascadilla Gorge from Lynn Street to Stewart Avenue

–Horseshoe Falls and Risley Hall Trails in Fall Creek Gorge

–sections of trails around Beebe Lake

The trails will be reopened when conditions allow.


UPDATE 6:30 A.M. 8/9/13

The Cortland County Sheriff’s Department is out with a warning this morning. The department is advising no unnecessary travel this morning. Many roadways in the county have water flowing across them. Many roads are covered by downed trees and debris.

UPDATE 6 A.M. 8/9/13

Heavy downpours caused continuous flooding last night in our area, and we’re still feeling the impacts Friday morning.

A number of roads remain closed this morning.

  • Debris is still covering the roadway on Route 327, from Route 13 all the way to and including the entrance to Treman State Park.
  • Trumbulls Corner Road in Enfield remains closed between Route 327 and Rumsey Hill Road.
  •  A portion of Fish Road remains closed in Enfield as well.
  •  State DOT crews have been out all night in Lansing trying to clear debris off a portion of East Shore Drive as well, and were still out clearing the roadway as of 4:30 a.m.
  •  A portion of Triphammer Road between Route 13 and Waterwagon Road in Lansing is reportedly open this morning. Standing water caused plenty of problems on that part of the road Thursday night.
  • There are also reports of flooding along Route 38, closing the road between Routes 34B and 366.
  • Route 414 is closed in both directions near the Steuben-Chemung County line due to flooding.
  • Route 11 in Cortland County is closed from Polkville to Marathon

Things got pretty bad in Cortland last night, where a number of streets were blocked due to backed-up culverts and heavy rains continuing to beat down on the area.

In Cortlandville, people had to take shelter on top of their cars, reportedly, in the Walmart parking lot off Route 13. Photos show standing water inside the store after 10:30 Thursday night.

Flooding closed a portion of Route 79 west of Ithaca for a time Thursday night.

On Route 89, there were also flooding problems, and people enjoying a show at the Hangar Theater had plenty of problems when they came outside.

Reporter Pete Blanchard caught up with former Tompkins County lawmaker Mike Koplinka-Loehr, who came outside to find his hybrid underwater. Water was seen up to people’s knees in the parking lot of the theater, which also sustained some flooding damage.

One problem the area didn’t seem to have Thursday night was power outages. Despite severe lightning and flooding, outages were around the one-thousand mark at most during the peak of the storms.

Areas of Chemung County are now at about 1,400 outages Friday morning.

There are plenty of warnings out this morning that if you do approach an area that appears to be flooded, drive away from it and do not try to pass through.

UPDATE 11:45 P.M.

Tompkins County emergency management officials report a number of roads still with flooding.

Rains started to move through the area once again after 11 p.m. Thursday night.

By 11:45 p.m., emergency officials said most roads in Lansing were open. State DOT crews were working to get East Shore Drive open.

Roadways in Enfield, including Route 327 and Harvey Hill Road, were forced to be closed due to flooding.

Perhaps the clearest example of bad flooding was at the Hangar Theater in Ithaca, where water flooded cars and was responsible for plenty of flooding inside the theater as well.

Flooding also led officials at the Franziska Rackers Center to cancel their Preschool Special Ed program on Friday due to flooding in their building.

Standing water was visible in a number of areas in Ithaca, including along Route 79 heading into Ithaca from the western portion of Tompkins County.

Heavy rains led to problems for people in Cortlandville, as some drivers were stuck in the parking lot of the Walmart there off Route 13.

Standing water was visible on a number of streets in the city of Cortland, where police confirmed to WHCU that a number of side roads were closed due to blocked culverts.

Portions of Route 11 and Route 215 outside of the city were also closed for a time due to flooding.

There have been plenty of problems in Tioga County as well, where heavy rain led to the closure of Route 38 for a time in Berkshire.

With all the lightning and heavy rain, NYSEG reported less than 1,000 power outages in Tompkins County at the peak of Thursday night’s storms.

Over 1,000 outages were reported in both Chemung and Tioga counties around midnight, as strong storms were hitting the region one last time.


UPDATE 10:05 P.M.

Tompkins County officials have given us another list of road closures:

Route 327, Enfield: From Trumbulls Corner Road to Enfield Center Road

Harvey Hill Road, Enfield: Bridge is out

East Shore Drive, Town of Lansing: About a mile of the roadway is closed

Avoid North Triphammer Road in Lansing if you can. There are reports of debris causing problems throughout the stretch of the roadway.

Route 79 shut down at Ithaca City line

Route 89 near the Hangar Theater, and portions of Route 89 in both the town and city of Ithaca and areas north as well. Reporter Pete Blanchard said as of 10:15, there were areas where the water was up to his knees.


UPDATE 9:45 p.m.: We’re getting word from Tompkins County officials of some bad flooding, as conditions are beginning to get worse. Here’s what we know:

A portion of East Shore Drive is closed in the Town of Lansing due to flooding.

A portion of Triphammer Road, down to the Four Corners, is also clsoed.

There are a number of flooding issues reported in the city of Ithaca.

Taughannock Boulevard in the Town of Ithaca and Route 96 through Ulysses have also been trouble spots this evening.

We’ll keep you posted. If you have any updates, please post them to our Facebook page, or call our news room at 257-8249.



UPDATE, 8:30 P.M. Drenching rains caused flooding and led to dangerous road conditions around our area Thursday night.

A flash flood warning was put into effect for Chemung, Cortland, Schuyler, Steuben and Tompkins counties through 12:30 a.m. Friday.

Scattered power outages were reported throughout the area, but as of 9 p.m. Thursday, the biggest impacts were in Steuben County, with more than 2,000 NYSEG customers in the dark there. Areas of Tompkins, Schuyler, Cortland and Cayuga counties all had less than 1,000 outages as of 9 p.m.

Tompkins County emergency response officials said Thursday evening that there were a number of trees and branches that came down in storms, but no major incidents to report.

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