June 24, 2013

Day 241 - June 23, 2013: Exploring the flood damage to the Erie Canal

For our automobile excursion today, we drove up the Erie Canal, exploring the damage and status of the nearby locks. We have heard so many conflicting stories about what has happened, that we wanted to see for ourselves.

Locks 2 through 6 were undamaged, since excess water coming down the Mohawk River flows around them, over the Cohoes Falls, and into the Hudson River. Locks 7 and 8 were also undamaged as both of their dam gates were opened in time for any excess water to flow through.

The lock 9 dam was heavily damaged when, during the rapidly rising waters, the lock 10 dam was opened and high water and debris piled into the closed lock 9 dam, seriously bending some of its gates. These gates hang down on two massive hinges from overhead bridges to form a dam. On the face of each gate is a large steel panel, which can be raised and lowered as necessary to control the flow. The entire structure can be swung up under the bridge to allow debris to pass through. Two of the many gates on lock 9 were bent and needed to be removed and repaired, and this required an out-of-state contractor to fabricate and ship needed parts. Today we saw barges and cranes in place ready to mount one of the repaired gates.

Workers repairing the gates
A barge and crane in place ready to hang a gate
The lock 10 dam, and area around it, has collected a serious amount of debris which will need to be cleared. Some was clearly visible trapped on one of the gates.

Lock 10 with gates up with visible debris
Lock 11 and its dam were undamaged; however, four boats were below that dam when the flooding hit, and the lock master moved them into this lock to provide protection. For the first day, the lock was unfilled, and they had no visibility, power or water. One of the boats had a large active puppy that had to be carried up the lock wall ladder to do his business. On the second day, the boats were raised and generators were brought in. Unfortunately, a train goes by within a hundred feet with its whistle blowing many times a day! This group has had a much more difficult situation to deal with than our group at Waterford, and remarkably they have remained calm.

Four boats still trapped in lock 11

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