Severe rain and high winds blew through the area Thursday night and Friday morning, causing flooding and power outages from Central New York down to the Southern Tier that prompted numerous rescues and left one person dead.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said late Friday morning that the victim was killed after going into a flooded area in Norway, in Herkimer County. Later on Friday, the Diocese of Albany identified the flood victim as Father J. Thomas Connery. State Police have confirmed Connery as the victim.
Connery was traveling to preside over masses in Herkimer and Newport when his vehicle was caught in the flooding.
“We are so saddened to learn of Father Thomas Connery’s tragic death, but we know that he died as he lived — serving the people of God without fear or concern for himself,” said Bishop Edward Scharfenberger.
Oneida County remains in a state of emergency with concerns from street flooding to creeks in the county. A no unnecessary travel advisory was also issued there and a number of roads are shut down in the city of Utica.
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Cuomo made his way to the Mohawk Valley Friday morning to survey damage across the area.
"Halloween trick-or-treat. Mother nature had a trick for us," Cuomo told Spectrum News in a phone interview. "It was very bad overnight."
Cuomo said hundreds of evacuations were made throughout the state overnight.
"We're in the Mohawk Valley right now, where Herkimer and Dolgeville, Little Falls area have an emergency situation where people are being evacuated and we have the state police and swift order rescue on site," Cuomo said.
The Red Cross has opened a shelter in Whitesboro at the Whitesboro Fire Deptartment on Oriskany Blvd.
In Chadwicks, near the Sauquoit Creek, homeowners said the flooding was the worse they've seen, with many homes left with flooded basements and backyards. It's an issue that has cropped up several times in the past decade, with some residents saying they are questioning whether they should move.
Cuomo said New York is deploying 200 members of the National Guard to aid in storm clean-up. In addition to Oneida County, he also issued a state of emergency in Cayuga, Hamilton, Herkimer and Montgomery counties.
Hinckley Reservoir is being watched closely. At a press conference, the Oneida County Executive said the levels are high and Water is gushing over the dam.
"There is concern about that, of overflowing. Like we had in '11 or '13 were some of the worst times, but we're keeping a close eye on that," said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.
The county is working with the State Canal Corporation to monitor the levels.
During the press conference, Whitestown Town Supervisor Shaun Kaleta said the first phase of their flood mitigation efforts; two new floodplain benches, helped hold water in.
"All that water that was retained at Dunham Manor Park would have hit downstream in the Village of Whitesboro sooner. Believe it or not, causing more destruction which I can't even fathom," Kaleta said. "So we have made more progress, but yes, we have a lot more progress to make."
More floodplain benches will be installed as part of the Sauquoit Creek flood mitigation efforts.
Utica leaders are reminding people to listen to evacuation notices.
"You could have structural collapse due to the amount of water coming into your home. You could lose your foundation, could get water into the first floor of the structure, downed power lines, you could lose gas. Natural gas leaks, anything like that. All things that we've got to be worried about," said Utica Fire Chief Scott Ingersoll.
Later Friday, U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency to stand ready to approve any request from the state for a major disaster declaration from the storm.