Feeding thousands, cleaning up after the Mohawk Valley flood

Mohawk Valley residents at one of several emergency food distribution sites on Monday. The Salvation Army expects to feed 2,500+ today alone.

Both the Salvation Army and the Red Cross are sending relief teams into Herkimer and Mohawk, to help the thousands of residents who need food and more, as they clean up from Friday morning's floods.

Many people cannot cook on gas stoves, because gas lines to homes have been shut down until furnaces, water heaters and stove connections are certified as safe. The Salvation Army has a command center at its Herkimer facility on Prospect Street, where they're preparing hot meals and also staging to give out cleanup kits (buckets containing mops, gloves and bleach) and personal hygeine kits (toothbrushes, etc).

Captain Brian Clark tells us they served 13-hundred meals on Sunday, and had requests for at least 1,000 more dinners on Monday. Besides the Herkimer location, they also have emergency canteens in Mohawk behind the Mohawk Central School, at a tent on the empty lot next to Family Dollar on Main Street, andthree other mobile vans that are taking food to the neighborhoods in both Mohawk and Herkimer where residents are cleaning up.

National Grid has a presence at the emergency stations, offering dry ice --which can cool for several days--to people who cannot turn on electricity because of water damage.

The Red Cross is also beefing up its presence in the Mohawk Valley, with a shelter at Herkimer's First Methodist on Prospect Street. They have cots for 80 to spend the night and can feed several hundred, and Shelter Manager Kathy McKenney tells us they are working at bringing in portable showers.

Three days after the Friday deluge, there are still mud covered roads in Herkimer, where the flooding was caused by water coming up through storm sewers. There are piles of ruined furniture and more at curbside as residents clean out flooded basements.

In Mohawk, the emergency feeding canteens are also gathering places for neighbors to share stories and concerns. One woman told us she dug through her basement's mud to recover her father's Purple Heart and other military mementos. A man showed us videos of the gap in his basement where water swept away his home's foundation, along with his bar, pool table and more (the house is being reconstructed).

Despite the damages and losses, people we talked to were greatful, and thankful for the help that's come into their community (like out of town firefighters who came in to help pump out basements). And there is humor: one home has salvaged halloween costume in a front yard chair, with a 'welcome to mud city' sign. Next door, there's a mud-bedraggled Christmas tree stuck into the curbside mudbank. Christmas in July? Lex, who was doing the cleanup told us that he's used to seeing old Christmas trees in snowbanks, and sticking one in a mudbank seemed appropriate.