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SL begins assessing flood damage, braces for more rain

Flood conditions in parts of the North Country eased a bit on Monday as emergency personnel continued dealing with the damage caused by high waters.

In Saranac Lake, water levels receded, providing officials with the chance to assess infrastructure above and below the Lake Flower Dam.

Following five tense days, some volunteers are being sent home to rest. But more heavy rain is expected this week.

John Sweeney is village manager in Saranac Lake. He looked rested as he spoke to a small group of reporters at his office yesterday, joking that he slept for a total of four hours the night before.

That's more than he's had most nights since the flood crisis began.

Now that the floodwaters have eased, Sweeney said dozens of volunteers are getting a chance to dry out and catch some sleep.

"What we've done across the board is we've kind of backed down a little bit on the amount of staff that's coming in from a volunteer perspective," he said. "The village has taken over more of it. Obviously, we're trying to release some of the resources."

Sweeney says the village has extended its emergency declaration for an additional five days. Meanwhile, Saranac Lake Fire Chief Brendan Keough says that an emergency command center will continue operating from the fire house downtown.

Keough says the response to the current emergency is the longest and most sustained effort anyone can remember - that includes relief efforts following the ice storm of 1998.

"I think the flood is nothing that anybody has ever experienced to this magnitude, so it's been a learning process for all of us," he said. "The cooperation has been huge. Between the county and the state, DPW crews, DEC crews, sandbag crews - everybody has been phenomenal."

According to Keough, water levels will be unstable over the next several days, especially with nearly two inches of rain forecasted Tuesday and Wednesday.

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