Tompkins County storm damage starts to build up

mikemol/via Flickr
August 8, 2014

The thunderstorms that passed through Tompkins County and the Finger Lakes this week left roads flooded and hundreds of residents without power. Ulysses, Lansing and the southern part of Tompkins County appear to have been hardest hit.

According to the county’s Highway Director Jeffrey Smith, the storm that came through on Tuesday hit a small area, hard, and then moved on.

“You can almost draw lines on the map," says Smith. "Right down the road, there’s almost little or no damage to what looks like up the road there was like a catastrophic storm event, washing out culverts and shoulders and things like that.”

Smith says that means it’s difficult to apply to higher levels of government for disaster aid. There has to be a minimum amount of damage to qualify and when a small area sees almost all the damage, it’s hard to reach that level.

Smith says there have been a few of these storms this year and the impacts are starting to build up. While the damage might not be bad after one storm, if debris isn’t removed it starts to block drainage ditches. He says that’s what often causes roads to become submerged.

“And after it starts that, you know, then there’s lots of different opportunities for that water to now cause severe damage to the road system.”

Smith says the county’s roads are better off than state or local roads and the county helps the other agencies when it can.