TUPPER LAKE - Water levels went down in Tupper Lake Monday afternoon, but officials were concerned they may rise again with the rain.
The National Weather Service predicted a quarter-inch to a half-inch of new rain today in Tupper Lake, 1 to 2 inches tonight and lighter showers into Friday, maybe mixed with snow Wednesday night.
"If we get the 2 inches quick of rain, we don't think it's going to raise the flood level above where it was (Sunday)," said village and town Emergency Manager Carl Steffen. "It could go back to that level."
Driftwood and brush that have washed into Demars Boulevard in Tupper Lake remain Monday, as well as flooding that has closed this section of state Route 3 from Pleasant Avenue to Cedar Street. The section from Cedar Street to Santa Clara Avenue is being reopened today. Most businesses on Demars Boulevard remain open to the public.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Town Supervisor Roger Amell and village Mayor Mickey Desmarais signed off on an extension to the state of emergency in Tupper Lake. According to the declaration, it will remain in effect until Sunday, at which time officials will re-evaluate whether another extension is necessary.
Village and town officials are strongly advising that Tupper Lakers refrain from any unnecessary travel on streets, roads and highways within the municipality.
Village police Chief Tom Fee said state Department of Transportation workers were on Demars Boulevard this morning cleaning up debris to open a section of the road that has been closed for several days. He said they plan to open from Santa Clara Avenue to Cedar Street.
The boulevard from Pleasant Avenue to Santa Clara Avenue will remain closed except for local traffic and people who want to go to the businesses on the street, since there's still standing water in part of that section. That section has been closed for five days, since Thursday.
Several Demars Boulevard businesses have closed for periods during the flooding, including the Save-A-Lot supermarket and Boulevard Wine and Liquor, but they're starting to open back up. Monday afternoon, McDonald's was closed to all but drive-through customers.
Water levels are slowly beginning to recede along River Road, Water Street and Cedar Street.
Raquette River Drive remains flooded but is accessible from state Route 30. A sewage pumping station that serves Raquette River Drive and Byram Road remains under water and is still not operational. Portable toilets have been placed along each road for residents to use.
The fire department is asking that if a resident needs sandbags, the person should call 359-3341 or 359-2543 and volunteers will come assess the situation. An emergency command post is set up at the village offices during business hours and shifts to the fire department at night.
A ban on people using boats in flooded sections of the village remains in effect.
Steffen said there are several rumors floating around that he wanted to dispel.
"There's a lot of rumors around that Low's Dam is gone," Steffen said.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation, which owns and controls the dam at Low's Lake on the Bog River above Tupper Lake, announced that the dam has been inspected and is in good shape, that it has not been opened and that there are no plans for an opening.
Brookfield Renewable Power sent personnel Monday to clear debris - mostly docks and fallen trees - from Setting Pole Dam, and that's helped with water flow, Steffen said.
He also reiterated that people who live outside the village, draw their water from wells and have standing water on their property shouldn't drink their water until it has been tested. But people on municipal water through the village have no need to worry, Steffen said.
Dealing with flooding
A number of homes along the Raquette River and the bodies of water along it are surrounded by water.
Caleb and Tammi Combs recently bought their home at the end of Cedar Street, which is now engulfed with water. They're managed to keep it from flooding the house, but not without some work.
"He didn't sleep for two, three nights, 'cause you can't let it go," Tammi Combs said.
Caleb Combs said he fiddled with sandbags and about six pumps before he got the right mix to keep water out of the basement.
He's been monitoring the water level with a shovel and an arrow stuck upright in the ground in his yard, and he said the water level Monday evening was about an inch lower than it was over the weekend.
"It's not going down very fast," he said.
Next door, Julie Hubbard said she's been fortunate, with the Combs and her neighbors through the backyard both under water.
(Editor's note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the DEC owns and manages the Low's Lake dam.)