Wawarsing is extra soggy

Between the rain and the millions of gallons of water being pumped by the DEP through the leaky Delaware Aqueduct underground, the sump pumps of Wawarsing are working overtime. Adam Bosch of the Times Herald-Record reports today:

Homeowners said floods are at their worst when the DEP pumps huge amounts of water into the tunnel at the same time heavy rain is falling. That was the case Thursday. Meteorologists were predicting at least 2 inches of rain, and New York City was pushing some 825 million gallons per day into the leaking tunnel.

Julianne Lennon said the water seeped into her basement Monday just as quickly as two pumps shot it into the street. She invited DEP officials to see decades-old problem for themselves, but none had responded.

Overlook: An ancient beacon?

The remains of Overlook Mountain House. Photo by Flickr user bryanu35. Used with permission.

Overlook Mountain has a certain mysterious charm, as the above photo of the ruins of its once-grand mountaintop hotel show. But 19th-century resorts aren't the only cultural ruins atop Overlook, according to Woodstock resident Glenn Kreisberg, the editor of a new book, Lost Knowledge of the Ancients. A Graham Hancock Reader.

Kresiberg recently told the Daily Freeman that he believes Overlook is full of artifacts from an ancient culture:  Read more

Show us where it's flooding

To help track flooding across the Catskills today, we're launched a new feature: an interactive flood report map. Help us keep track of trouble spots! File a report, and we'll put a pushpin into the map. To file a report, click here.

Delhi, Walton to get hit hard

Robert Cairns at the Walton Reporter published a story on Facebook today about the outlook for Thursday's flooding in Delaware County. In short, it's looking bad. 

Cairns reports that Delaware County Emergency Services Coordinator Richard Bell is expecting Delhi and Walton to get two more feet of water than they did during last fall's October 1st flood:

Bell said flood waters in Delhi and Walton could rise as much as two feet higher than than a flood last fall, reaching 14 feet in Walton. "That's going to be more than last year's event, but less than 1996," he said. The level of the west branch of the Delaware River reached 16.8 feet during that flood and was much higher during the historic flood of 2006.

In his note, Cairns also announced that the Reporter is planning to cover the flooding tomorrow in real time, via its Twitter feed and its Facebook page. We heartily approve.

Bonacic: Keep the millionaires' tax

Fresh from the New York Times's City Room blog: GOP state senator John Bonacic, whose district includes territory from Delaware, Orange, Sullivan and Ulster Counties, has thrown his support behind a move to extend the so-called "millionaires' tax" in New York State. Provided it can be tweaked so it only applies to actual millionaires, that is.

The senator, John J. Bonacic, said he supported extending the surcharge if it was limited to individuals making a million dollars or more.

The current surcharge, which expires at the end of the year, kicks in on income over $200,000 for individuals and $300,000 for families. Mr. Bonacic also said his bill would earmark the additional revenue for some combination of education aid — softening the impact of some of Mr. Cuomo’s proposed cuts — as well as property tax rebates for middle-class homeowners.

“I personally believe that there is merit to raising the threshold of the millionaire’s tax and extending it for millionaires,” Mr. Bonacic said in an interview.  Read more

"Flooding is a certainty"

If you thought the rivers and streams got high earlier this week, you haven't seen anything yet.

The National Weather Service has issued flood watches for all five Catskills counties -- Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster -- from tomorrow morning to Friday evening, and the outlook is troubling, especially for the Esopus Creek, Schoharie Creek, the Wallkill River, the Delaware River, and the Ashokan and Rondout reservoirs. From the Binghamton NWS office:

2 To 3 Inches Of Rain Coupled With Snowmelt Could Lead To Significant Flood Problems In The Watch Area. * The Potential Exists For Significant Flooding On The Upper Delaware River And Its Tributaries. The Potential Exists For Major Flash Flooding On Smaller Streams And Creeks...Poor Drainage And Low- Lying Areas ... Those Living...Working Or Driving In Areas Prone To Flooding Should Be Prepared To Take Action Should Flooding Develop.

A just-published article by Adam Bosch in the Times Herald-Record reports that the New York City Department of Environmental Protection has re-started its controversial practice of releasing water into the Esopus Creek in order to drain the already-brimming reservoirs before the rains begin:

The city’s Department of Environmental Protection started releasing the maximum amount of water - roughly 1,555 million gallons a day - from its three Delaware reservoirs on Tuesday to make room for the additional water ... DEC Assistant Commissioner Jim Tierney said the releases that started Wednesday morning were necessary. He warned that several inches of rain, combined with the 17 billion gallons of water left in the snow pack, could spell danger for communities around the Ashokan and Esopus. “You could get an enormous amount of water rolling down that valley,” Tierney said. “The reservoir will likely fill to the top and spill. It could be very bad tonight.”

On his blog, Bosch explained that even Ulster County executive Mike Hein, who has been fiercely critical of the DEP's water releases into the Esopus, agreed that today's releases were necessary:

Even Hein, who’s become a steady critic of the DEP, agreed. “This limited release represents a responsible operation of the waste channel as a powerful tool to provide floot mitigation,” he said.

The New York State Office of Emergency Management issued a press release this afternoon warning that flooding in many areas is almost inevitable tomorrow:

With flood watches being posted for most of the state by National Weather Service, the New York State Office of Emergency Management (OEM) today advised New Yorkers to review their individual emergency plans to be prepared for the possibility of flooding.

“The storm system that is moving into the state tonight is carrying a lot of moisture and will possibly produce several inches of rain over the next few days,” said Andrew X. Feeney, Director of State OEM. “This rain, coupled with the forecasted warmer temperatures and melting snow, will raise the levels of already swollen rivers and tributaries in many areas of the state and probably will result in flooding.”

Ulster County Emergency Communications Director Arthur R. Snyder sent out an email this afternoon which was reposted in the Facebook group "Upstaters." (Upstaters is a closed group, joinable by request.) Snyder wrote that in a 2pm NWS conference call, Phoenicia was ominously mentioned by name:

Some winter precipitation will occur throughout the County beginning after midnight. Valley areas could see 1-2 inches of snow, mountainous areas 4-5". The storm should transition to a rain event by mid morning tomorrow in lower elevations, later in the higher terrain. Rainfall totals: a widespread 2-4" of rain is expected; up to 5" in SE facing upslope areas. Phoenicia was specifically mentioned in this call - in and of itself mentioning this location in a regional call is unusual.

Snyder then gave a grim warning:  Read more

The troutmeister's plea

Over in Shandaken, Mike O'Neil, Troutmeister -- yes, that does appear to be an official title -- recently issued a plea to the community for money to fund the annual stocking of trout in the Woodland Valley Stream. Troutmeistering is a sacred family trust, handed down to Mike by his father Paul before him. Fittingly, Mike used the same letter for this year's fundraising drive that his father wrote 24 years ago. It begins:

LET US BEGIN by agreeing that Woodland Brook will never inspire lines like:
“To the West! To the West!
To the land of the free!
Where the mighty Missouri
Rolls down to the sea.”
It would be ridiculous in fact—not unlike comparing a leaky faucet to the falls of Niagara—to equate our piddling little trickle with dozens of such watercourses: with the Congo as well as the Missouri; with the Amazon, the Nile, the Yukon or even (author blushes) the Gowanus Canal. Few of which lack their own sort of piscine life.  Read more

What happens when you don't clear the snow off the top of your vehicle

According to the Schoharie County Sheriff's Office, snow and ice from the uncleared roof of a U-Haul truck severely injured a 50-year-old woman in Middleburgh yesterday. 

A press release states that Gloria Spiers was driving south on State Route 30 as 30-year-old Katie Rovario was driving north in the U-Haul when ice and snow from the top of the U-Haul struck Spiers' windshield.

Spiers sustained "serious head and facial injury" and was transported to Albany Medical Center, the press release states.

Police: Toddler carrying marijuana wandered street while mother snoozed

The arrest of a Loch Sheldrake woman on Saturday for endangering the welfare of a child is making headlines, thanks to the unhappy circumstances of her alleged crime. According to the Associated Press report in the Daily Freeman:

Police in Loch Sheldrake said Lakeisha Owens was sleeping in her apartment around 5 p.m. Saturday when her 3-year-old daughter was nearly struck by a motorist on state Route 52. Officials said the motorist pulled over, removed the child from the road and called police. Authorities said the child was holding a bag containing 15 grams of marijuana.

Martha Stewart comes to lunch

In a blog post published last month, Martha Stewart (yes, the Martha Stewart) posted a snapshot-filled account of her drive through the towns of Rockland and Andes, both of which she found "charming."

The prompt for Stewart's journey was a lunch date with a couple of Rockefellers (yes, those Rockefellers) at the Beaverkill Valley Inn in Lew Beach, in Sullivan County. Here's what Stewart thought of the Inn:

I would love to come back in warmer weather to fish for trout and to rock on this wrap-around porch.  Read more