By Jay Mullen
Severe storms and flooding have affected Whitehall and surrounding communities in northern Washington County on Monday, Aug. 24.
Mayor Phill Smith said he was told Whitehall experienced four to six inches of rain in an hour span.
Many residents experienced flooding in their basements from the high amounts of rain. The Whitehall Fire Department performed pump-outs to 30 to 40 homes, Smith said during a phone call around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Resident Rick Ballard said he witnessed someone kayaking down roadway late Monday evening.
“The water was all the way across Broadway from Putorti’s to the other side of the Post Office,” he said.
Elizabeth Camara of Fair Haven, Vermont was coming into town to visit family overnight in Whitehall. She said the rain began around 3:30 p.m. with a light sprinkling.
But heavy rain started around 4:30 p.m.
“I saw a post about a car under water at Joe’s (Pizza) so we headed to town to see what we could do to help,” she said.
As she was driving down Buckley Street in front of the school, she said, that the street was submerged in water.
Driving further into town Camara said she saw fire trucks everywhere trying to assist anyway they could.
“There were cars under water, and houses starting to go under as well,” she said.
Smith was at his home when the storms began. He said that he has never seen a storm quite like this one in his life.
“Just looking out my window I probably couldn’t see three feet out,” he said. “Everything was just a blur.”
Smith said power lines and trees are down throughout the village. He said that for the most part the village has power.
The village offices were another casualty of the storm.
Smith said that the offices were “pretty much destroyed.”
“We’ve got a lot of records in cardboard boxes that are all soaking wet. We’ve got quick response on the way to help us evaluate what we need to do with all of this stuff,” he said.
Jennifer Vogt of the National Weather Service in Albany informed the Times that there were no tornado sightings during the storm. She said that there was a lot of wind damage along with the flooding.
“The storm just kept building across the same area,” she said.
As of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday the National Weather Service was still going over reports of the situation.
Tim Hardy of the Washington County Department of Public Safety said that they are still getting calls trickling in to help out with pump outs.
He said that there are crews from the state and county out all over trying to help out in any way they can. The Village DPW is also out, performing storm cleanup.
“Just trying to get everything cleaned up and make sure that anybody who needs assistance is getting what they need,” Hardy said.
Camara said that witnessing the damage was terrible.
She said that donations are going to have to be collected soon.
“It’s just as bad as it was during Hurricane Irene, I’d say,” she said.
Hardy witnessed first-hand all the support from agencies from the state, the county and the village and town. But the outpouring of support from the community has been incredible.
“There was so many people out there that were digging people out of flood waters or checking cars,” Hardy said. “There was a lot of people that were just out helping, checking on neighbors, pulling trees out of the road. The community support is evident.”