Cleanup of creek planned

FLORIDA – Residents who live along the Schoharie Creek in Montgomery County gathered at the Town Hall on Wednesday to see some of the results from a study tracking the debris left over from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The Schoharie Debris Study, done by AECOM, an engineering firm, was established to try and determine how much debris from Irene and Lee went into the Schoharie Creek last year.

The storms severely flooded the creek, altering its historic water path and carrying the remains of destroyed homes, uprooted trees, tree limbs, and random garbage that were left behind when the water level lowered.

This seemed to be of major interest to local residents, who were attempting to guess where some of the debris came from.

“I think my hot tub is over here somewhere,” Cathy Picciocca of Florida joked, pointing to a field on a map of the debris study near her home on Mill Point Lane.

According to the maps, much of the debris built up around bends and curves in the creek. Scouring was also a major concern, with many of the banks destroyed by the water stripping away soil.

Joe Knapik of Glen said debris was dropped around his property, including plastic bags stuck up in trees more than a year later.

He is not confident the government can offer a solution.

“They will never get this mess cleaned up,” Knapik said.

The work of looking for debris began Nov. 26 and lasted about a week. The crews, according to AECOM Project Manager Ed Twiss, moved along the banks of the creek and looked at the areas surrounding the creek, logging any debris piles with GPS units and photos to help with the cleanup.

According to county DPW Manager Paul Clayburn, $250,000 in grant money remains to pay for the cleanup. The study’s final results, due in about one month, could be used to apply for more grants to help pay for the cleanup, he said.

Cleanup work has begun on Newkirk Road in the town of Florida, and the crews will begin working their way south, following the creek.

“We will work our way south until we run out of money,” Clayburn said.

Officials do not know how long the cleanup will take.

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