Mohawk Valley marks one year since widespread flooding

Flood damage in Herkimer.

It was one year ago this week that the Mohawk River and tributaries roared above their banks and into 1,100 homes and businesses across the Mohawk Valley.

In all more than 2,400 people from Oneida, Herkimer, and Montgomery counties, and the City of Oneida, were displaced. A year later, the Red Cross and Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties are pooling resources to help teach neighbors about emergency preparedness.

In the days and months that followed the Mohawk Valley flooding of June 2013, volunteers and community organizations like the American Red Cross offered housing, served thousands of hot meals and snacks, and distributed bulk items and clean-up kits to neighbors in need.

Now, almost one year later, while many are back on their feet, the Red Cross is still helping some.

"Since then, we've been involved in long-term recovery, that's helping people with unmet needs," says Rosie Taravella, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Central New York Region. "Things that weren't covered by insurance and so forth... Everything from furniture replacement to drywall replacement."

For many of those affected, this was the second flood they experienced in less than ten years.

Dawn Sanders, who lives in Fort Plain in Montgomery County, saw her Abbot Street address flood twice. It first happened in the Flood of 2006, almost six years before â?? nearly down to the exact date of -- last year's high waters.

She remembered the horrors of 2006 when the evacuation warning came over her scanner last June:

"Once I heard the alarm come over the scanner -- we have a scanner at the house -- saying to evacuate Abbot Street in Fort Plain, I said to my husband, 'C'mon, let's get some stuff together.' He says, 'No, it's not going to be here yet.' I look out the window, there was water already on our street.'"

"I did not expect another flood. I live on West North Street in Ilion, I never expected it," says Herkimer County flood victim Julie Hulser. She also experienced the Flood of 2006, living in St. Johnsville seven years ago.

Hulser says the American Red Cross was incredibly helpful in walking her through what to do last year.

"They walk you through step by step, anything you need. They will explain the situation, they will explain what they do," Hulser explains. "They make you feel comfortable, they comfort you."

Monday, from the parking lot of the Herkimer K-Mart, one of last June's most well-attended distribution sites -- where neighbors picked up food and cleaning supplies as they started the difficult task of drying out following the flood -- the American Red Cross and the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties announced a partnership.

Moving forward, the two organizations are committed to helping neighbors be better prepared should there be another flood or major natural disaster.

The Community Foundation has invested $50,000 into "Ready CNY," a program designed to make residents of Herkimer and Oneida Counties learn about emergency preparedness.

Taravella says one thing that made the Mohawk Valley flooding so unique was how quickly it all unfolded, and the size of the area the high water covered.

"This particular flood was challenging because of the size. It may not have affected as many people [as the Flood of 2006 and the Flood of 2011], but it was certainly a large geography," she said.