Torrential Rain Closes, Damages Williamstown Roads
|A state highway crew was working with a loader through the night to clear flooded Routes 2 and 7. Below, a spike shows the rain amount at Hopkins Forest.|
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A deluge hammered parts of the town on Wednesday, closing Torrey Woods Road and causing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
"I hardly know where to start and there is no end to describing last night's storm damage," wrote Town Manager Peter Fohlin in an email.
Torrential rainfall overran or wiped out culverts, flooded roads and washed dirt and debris down hillsides shortly.
"Our unpaved roads where devastated — side swales scoured away, road surfaces compromised and swept away, culverts blown out and strewn downstream," continued Fohlin. "A garage with its concrete slab was swept to a new location on Northwest Hill Road. Bill Stinson and his family farm are on the wrong side of TWO missing culverts now."
Flood-magnet Spruces Mobile Home Park was spared any further catastrophe, although Fohlin noted it had "nuisance" flooding.
David Dethier, Edward Brust Professor of Geology and Minerology at Williams College, said the college's weather station at Hopkins Forest registered 3/4 of an inch of rain over a 10-minute period just before 10 p.m.
"It rained the hardest we've ever measured rain in the last 18 to 19 years," said Dethier. "There was a 10-minute period when it rained 3/4 of an inch, which is incredible for this area."
Over 20 minutes, it was 3.5 inches, which Dethier described as a once in 20-year or once in 10-year storm. Rainfall is spotty, he said, and in this case was focused along the Route 2 corridor (Cold Spring Road) from Petersburgh Pass to lower Northwest Hill Road.
Water Street, parts of Green River Road and Routes 2 and 7 were underwater for a time. One lane of Route 2 and 7 between Coyote Flaco Restaurant and Bee Hill Road had been opened by 9:30 a.m. Below, an image from Dethier showing damage at West Main Street.
Paul Harsch, a resident of Bee Hill Road, said three state Department of Transportation employees with the District 1 Highway Division had been called about 9 p.m. to deal with water on the highway between Coyote Flaco and Bee Hill, where a culvert under the road had plugged solid. They were still working to open the culvert and clear the road of mud, rocks and debris well after midnight, Harsch wrote us. His wife, Joyce, sent us pictures of the crews at work.
"The torrential rains overwhelmed drains for a time, washed out driveways and generally made more of a nuisance than major troubles. No doubt there were more than a few very wet basements in the area as well.
The foreman Frank McSorley of Hancock, Dave Boone, the loader operator and Brenda Baliakos who often worked right in the loader bucket over the mud and silt-filled water with a bar and shovel to clear the muck from the culvert grating to allow the water to drain performed their tasks quietly and very effectively. It was obvious to this observer that they had worked together before and had handled many similar situations.
McSorley began his career with the highway department in 1957 and continues to enjoy his job. I didn't happen to ask how long Brenda and Dave had been with the department but all three clearly got along well and worked as a team to get the road opened again. Fortunately due to the lateness of the hour, there was very little through traffic.
While we motorists often speed by these workers along our highway we have no idea who they are and yet we all benefit by the condition in which they keep our roads and how they come out in all sorts of weather to deal with what nature throws our way."
Dethier said the effect of the storm on Bee Hill Road, a narrow dirt road, was to bypass all the culverts. At West Main Street and lower Northwest Hill, a large culvert was plugged with debris causing flooding.
"It was amazing," said Dethier.
In North Adams, Church, Ashland and River streets were flooded. There was more than 3 inches of water on Ashland Street, where a stalled car had to be pushed out nearby. Debris and mud were being cleared on Massachusetts Avenue and from Beaver Street, where water had again washed down from steep Bluff Road.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says an EF-2 tornado a mile wide touched down in Montgomery County, N.Y., shortly before 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Winds were rated at 125 mph and the storm tore off roofs and toppled power lines and trees along a 17-mile corridor and briefly hit Schoharie County.
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