A contingent of first responders from the Grand Island Fire Co. headed east to aid fellow New Yorkers recover from the impact of Hurricane Irene.
Grand Island firefighters Mark Sadkowski, Chuck Berlinger, Tony Mastantuono Jr. and Dave Dombrowski were part of the local team assigned to Schoharie County, approximately 25 miles west of Albany, where floodwaters from Schoharie Creek overtook the Gilboa Dam.
According to Ray Pauley, public information officer for the Grand Island Fire Co., a special detail from the GIFC is designated a storm emergency strike team, which provides fire and emergency medical services coverage when called upon by local authorities who have been stretched well beyond their normal limits. The team returned this week.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the Schoharie Valley experienced record flooding levels, and as the water moved downstream, the Mohawk River forced many communities to consider issuing evacuation orders.
Dozens of bridges in the region were closed or lost with numerous road closures. During the height of flood conditions, state transportation officials saw closures of U.S. Route 20 in both directions at the Schoharie/Schenectady county line.
The National Weather Service reported that the state's most significant rainfall was in Greene, Delaware and Ulster counties. Albany, Montgomery, Saratoga, Schoharie and Schenectady counties were also hit with prolonged and extremely heavy rain.
"Follow the directions of local emergency officials. If ordered to evacuate you should do so without hesitation. Lives in upstate New York have been lost today for failing to heed evacuation orders," Cuomo said.
If you are in a location that is not evacuated, stay in safe shelter and do not attempt to use the roads.