Ice jams cause evacuations and road closures and in Champlain

CHAMPLAIN Large chunks of ice wreaked havoc in downtown Champlain last Thursday, as they lodged up against the Main Street bridge causing the waters of the Chazy River to flood the streets, buildings and homes. Rescue workers reacted quickly to evacuate about 50 people, including the local barber and a customer, from the low-lying regions of Main and Cedar streets. Local excavators were contracted to help rescue people and to try and break up the jam which was compromising gas and water lines located under the bridge. While explosives had been used in past floods to break up ice jams, that was not an option this time around given that this jam involved the bridge. While some displaced residents sought their own shelter with nearby family and friends, about 20 were forced to stay at a temporary shelter set up by the Northern Chapter of the American Red Cross at the Knights of Columbus hall on Oak Street. Although that part of Route 9 remained closed over the weekend, the jam had been broken up before 9 p.m. and the floodwaters were making their way back into the river. By Friday, village officials, rescue workers and NYSEG crews were making steady progress toward bringing the area back to its state of normalcy before the expected snowstorm hit. NYSEG had been forced to curtail gas and electric service to some of their larger commercial customers in an effort to ensure adequate service to residential customers, according to a press release. The bridge itself remained closed to traffic while the state Department of Transportation came in to inspect its underside for possible damage. Finally by Monday afternoon both they and officials from NYSEG deemed it safe and it was reopened to traffic once again.

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