Governor Andrew Cuomo Thursday announced New York state intends to establish a new Upstate New York Flood Warning System, which he said will substantially improve the forecasting frequency, accuracy and modeling and mapping for any potential flooding throughout critical watershed regions in upstate New York.
“In the last several years, upstate New York experienced some of the worst flooding in the state’s history,” Cuomo said in a news release. “There is no question there has been a dramatic change in the climate causing larger, less predictable storms. This new warning system will be invaluable in better preparing state and local emergency personnel, so they can streamline communications and make timely, more informed decisions regarding water control and emergency evacuations. This project is another example of how the state is learning from past experiences and taking actions to ensure we are more ready for Mother Nature in the future.”
The Canal Corporation Board approved the project, contingent on the approval of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding, at their meeting on Sept. 11.
The Canal Corporation has designated Riverside Technology and its sub-consultants to lead the effort because of their global flood forecasting and local hydrology and hydraulic experience.
The state has submitted an $8.5 million hazard mitigation grant proposal to FEMA for the funding of the warning system.
The warning system will encompass three watersheds — the Oswego River Basin, Mohawk River Basin and Upper Hudson River Basin — in 27 upstate counties, where flooding has long been a recurring problem. In total, more than 13,000 square miles will be covered. Since 2006, three separate flooding events have resulted in damages to private property and public infrastructure estimated to be in the billions of dollars.
The flood warning system will use weather forecasts, precipitation gages,and newly installed and existing stream gages to fine tune flood warnings.
In this way, local communities will get more precise flood warnings that will be integrated with online maps to show predicted areas and depths of flooding. First responders will get more detailed and earlier data of impending flooding to evacuate people and save lives. Residents and businesses will be able to go online at any time to see what areas could be affected by floods of varying severities.
“The communities along the canal system are essential in revitalizing upstate New York. We must take all necessary steps to protect them as weather events become stronger and more difficult to predict,” said Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation Chairman Howard Milstein in the release. “The new warning system will give us the ability to do just that through increased preparedness and communication between governmental entities.”
Once approved, the New York State Canal Corporation will manage the project in coordination with its state and federal partners, including the New York State Thruway Authority, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Division of Homeland Security, National Weather Service and United States Geological Survey.
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