Monday, August 29, 2011

Families stranded in New York mountains after Irene destroys bridges

(CNN) -- Seven families who thought they had escaped the wrath of Irene are now stranded in the New York's Catskill Mountains after bridges crumbled all around them.

The 23 people -- including two pregnant women, seven toddlers and three infants -- are now stuck with no electricity, a dwindling supply of food and were down to one gallon of water late Sunday night.

"When we heard news about (bad weather) hitting Brooklyn, we thought we had saved ourselves," said Irina Noveck, one of those trapped at a vacation house in Prattsville, New York.

But after four bridges leading to the house collapsed, the families found themselves in a more dire predicament.

"We're sitting in one room, and it's a horrible situation and there is no way out," Noveck said. "(We) called 911, 311, nobody can help. Kids are getting scared, food is getting spoiled."

She said the families brought enough food for their weeklong stay, but that week ends Monday. And well water to the house is powered by an electric pump, but now there is no electricity.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office said early Monday that emergency officials are monitoring the situation and "expect to rescue the people by sometime Monday."

Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said Prattsville was one of the hardest-hit areas in terms of flooding after Irene tore over New York. He said the volume of water coming off the Catskill mountaintops is estimated to have exceeded the flow from Niagara Falls on both the American and Canadian sides, based on cubic feet per minute.

Earlier Sunday, 25 people stranded in Moore's Motel in Prattsville were rescued by National Guard troops and mutual aid. The effort took hours because 70 mph gusts proved too powerful for an air rescue, Groden said.

A total of 87 people stranded in Prattsville were rescued Sunday, he said.

Groden said Greene County is experiencing a 500-year flood, with many communities impassable. The county has missing bridges, major flooding and boats "that look like corks in the water."

He said rain had stopped by late Sunday night. While officials hope the major runoff is over by Monday morning, high tide is expected at 6 a.m. near the Hudson River.
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