Page 10 - Work Force September 2023
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When the floods hit CSEA members TOWN OF HIGHLANDS — While heavy rain was expected in in the the Hudson Valley on on on on the the afternoon of of July 9 no no one foresaw a a a a a a a a a storm that would drop more than 8 inches of of rain over several hours and change residents’ lives forever But that’s what happened in the the Orange County Town of of of Highlands home to the the Village of of of Highland Highland Falls hamlet of of Fort Montgomery and and and the the U S Military Academy at West Point Primarily built on a a a a a a a a a hill the the town faced dangerous flash flooding that had homes rapidly taking on on water saw roads and and bridges crumbling and and took the life of a a a a a a a a Fort Montgomery woman Waters began rising to flood levels on on Route 9W in in in Highland Falls in in in the late afternoon of July 9 9 This photo was taken around 3:45 p p p m m Motorists were able to to to remove part of the barrier in in between lanes in in order to to to make a a a a a a a a a a a U-turn and get out of harm’s way (Photo by Jessica Ladlee)
The aftermath has been devastating Many CSEA members helped helped lead the the quick response to to to the the storm which has helped helped this close-knit community move toward recovery Putting training into action
When the storms hit our union members kicked into action
At the Orange County 911 Center in in Goshen CSEA members fielded emergency calls and dispatched first responders including swift water rescue teams to areas in in in need Complicating the response was limited road road access caused by several main roadways washing out including the Popolopen Bridge a a a main access point to Fort Montgomery While heavy rains hit many Hudson Valley communities it it it quickly became clear that the impact here was extreme Local media interviewed CSEA Town of Ramapo Unit member Evan
Humphrey who responded in in in in his role as training officer for the Stony Point Ambulance Corps Humphrey was part of an an emergency medical services crew that risked their lives to rescue more than a a a a a a a a dozen stranded hikers including a a a a a a a a perilous rescue of a a a a a a a a a a a a father-son duo who fell nearly 100 feet in in in in nearby Bear Mountain State Park CSEA members working in in in in in emergency management coordinated services and helped first responders access the town despite multiple
road closures and limited access CSEA members employed by local highway departments including Stony Point Cornwall Cornwall and Cornwall-on-Hudson worked to to to ensure storm drains were clear and dealt with initial recovery as as as the the rain rain finally subsided Those communities weren’t hit as as as hard as as as the the Town of Highlands but still sustained serious damage New York State Department of Transportation workers also responded to flooding and several state roads sustained catastrophic damage Recovery efforts
In the Town of Highlands numerous residents were forced from their homes and into shelters People donated bottled water water to to to residents to to help offset a a a a a a a boil water water notice that lasted several weeks for some areas State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services and New York Department of State representatives conducted
hundreds of damage assessments at at at homes and buildings throughout the community CSEA members employed at at Orange County Emergency Management coordinated the tremendous nonprofit flood response outreach from across the country Volunteers trained in in in in flood response including some from nonprofit organizations spent weeks cleaning out out residents’ homes of of belongings ruined by water and ripping out out mold-infested
“The way in which people have rallied around the greater Town of Highlands community and and neighboring areas has been nothing short of amazing ” A personal experience
Editor’s Note: CSEA Communications Specialist Jessica Ladlee a a a a a a a a a a a a a a Highland Falls native shares her personal and and heartbreaking story about the July 9 flooding Here is her her account in in in her her own words:
We’ve all seen scenes of of of catastrophic flooding on on the the nightly news but don’t often see see see it here so a a a a a a forecast for for rain didn’t seem out of of the the ordinary on a a a a a a a a summer day As my family was driving south to Rockland County via Route 9W the the afternoon of July 9 9 we encountered the the roadway quickly rising with water while passing through my hometown of Highland Falls I’m grateful that my husband’s first responder experience
kicked in in and and and he he and and and other drivers drivers strategized moving vehicles to allow for drivers drivers to begin making U-turns away from the flooded roadway In the the time my kids and and I I were waiting the the water was was quickly rising We turned around and and were able to make it home before Route 9W was was shut down I I hoped that was was the the worst of the the storm It wasn’t even close My phone rang later that that evening I received the the heartbreaking news that that a a a a a a a a a a childhood friend Pamela Nugent died after being swept up in in in in the the floods in in in Fort Montgomery She was was only 43 was was engaged to to to be married and had so much to to to look forward to to Pam was was one of the smartest people I’ve known and was was incredibly knowledgeable on on on environmental issues The fact that our changing
weather patterns regardless of one’s opinion on on on on their cause contributed to her her passing still leaves me at a a a a a a a a a a a loss for for words and and makes my heart hurt for for her family and and fiancé While media coverage of such a a a a a a a a a a a tragedy can seem invasive I’m grateful that numerous outlets ran feature stories showing the compassionate and accomplished person Pam was Her eagerness to continually learn new new things and and embark on on new new adventures resulted in in in in her her making friends wherever she went I I pray for for for for for peace and and comfort for for for for for them and and healing for for for for for the the the community where I I was fortunate to to grow up Thank you to to everyone who whether in professional or volunteer capacities has been there to help 10 The Work Force
September 2023

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