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AFD prepared for response at site

Saturday, June 21, 2014 - Updated: 4:08 AM

The Amsterdam Fire Department recently visited the construction site at Lock E-11 on the Mohawk River in light of the rehabilitation and mitigation work currently taking place.

The dam, which is located at the Mohawk River in Amsterdam near Guy Park Manor, is currently undergoing a four year, $40 million rehab project.

The work is challenging and has elements of danger, which is why battalion chief Michael DePasquale took the squad to the scene of the construction last week, in case an emergency ensues.

"They showed us the staging area of the construction equipment; they gave us emergency numbers to contact in case there were problems down there. Some of the guys ... were looking for different access points for ropes," he added. "Basically it was the 'get to know the canal tour.'"

DePasquale said during the tour, project engineer Kevin Mainello familiarized his department with the grounds, and gave him the telephone numbers of construction workers operating the heavy machinery.

He said during a crisis situation, the department should know who operates what equipment, should a machine should malfunction, or they need to move an apparatus during a rescue.

Mainello, who works for the Thruway Authority, said his team reviews safety instructions with the construction workers every morning.

Kubricky Construction, a subsidiary of D.A. Collins Co., is currently executing the early stages of the project.

"They talk every morning. The construction workers are in a trailer next door and they are in constant communication," Mainello said.

DePasquale said many of his department workers are trained paramedics who undergo extensive emergency service training for situations such as cold water rescue.

Currently, he said a couple of firemen are stationed in Montour Falls for a collapse training and trench rescue course.

"This is absolutely not outside of our comfort zone," DePasquale said. "We are trained in low angle rescue."

DePasquale said the entire mitigation and rehabilitation project is an asset to the city.

Flooding is always a concern for his department, so DePasquale hopes the steps the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation are taking will build up the areas resiliency.

Due to recent storms devastating the area, the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation have devised a plan in preparation for future flooding.

That includes a $8.5 million flood warning system the corporation is installing across the locks on the Mohawk River.

Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation spokesman Shane Mahar said the system will be installed at each of the dams and be strategically placed throughout the Mohawk, Hudson and Oswego river basins.

Mahar said the proposed system will be able to detect the next time there is flash flooding or another severe weather event causing the elevation levels of the river to change.

"So we can better react," Mahar said.

Today, Mahar said gauges are placed at Lock E-8 in Scotia and Freeman's Bridge in Schenectady.

The web based technology is able to tell where the water and what the water flow levels are, he said.

All area emergency personnel will be able to access the system. Mahar said residents will be able to log in as well, but there are different levels of log in depending on your status.

The system will tie directly into the current forecast system managed by the National Weather Service and State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Mahar said.

"The next time the Otsquago Creek in Fort Plain floods we will be able to know in advance ... that will potentially save a life," Mahar said.

And DePasquale believes this project is vital to the needs of the Amsterdam community as well as all the communities burdened by the river's flooding.

"The last couple of years with all this flooding that we have had in the area ... this will be a good thing for the area," he said.

     

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