FONDA - Montgomery County Public Works Commissioner Paul Clayburn wants to undertake a massive cleanup project to prevent the Schoharie Creek from potentially wiping out the hamlet of Burtonville in the event of another flood.
Clayburn and Charleston Supervisor Shayne Walters met this week with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the cleanup of the area. The project could cost as much as $1.2 million, but Clayburn called that figure a "wild guess."
FEMA officials told Walters the agency would pay 87.5 percent of the cost of the project. The remaining 12.5 percent would be split between the town and the county. Walters said if the Army Corps of Engineers took over the project, it would be 100 percent federally funded.
Debris from the recent floods clogs the overflow area of the creek and is piled so high it reaches the bottom of the bridges on the Burtonville Spur, Clayburn said. The material must be removed and reused to stabilize the banks of the creek in several locations near Burtonville Road and the spur, he said. In addition, a rock wall near one of the two bridges has been breached and must be rebuilt.
"We're looking at using the material that was deposited," Clayburn said. "We want to use it as protection for the banks that were eroded. Right now the creek is directed right down toward the hamlet of Burtonville."
Some of the boulders left in the creek bed are so big that special equipment will be needed to move them, Clayburn said.
"We don't have anything big enough to move those rocks," he said.
In addition to the immediate problem, Clayburn is concerned about what would happen in the early spring, when ice that formed during the winter begins to melt and carry debris as it moves downstream.
"You're going to have a 'beaver dam' that you can't fix," he said.
Walters said he has been in constant contact with state and federal officials, some of whom have visited the area to see the damage and are amazed by what they see.
"People stand there and their jaws drop," Walters said. "They can't believe the extent of the damage."
John R. Becker covers Montgomery County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.