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[Updated] Emotions flood out with questions, complaints

Tonko hosts Q&A meeting for flood victims in Rotterdam Junction

Congressman Paul Tonko hosted a "town hall" style meeting at the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department on Wednesday, Sept. 28, with residents often sharing heated comments. Tonko addressed concerns well after sunset, as seen through a window on one of the department's garage doors.

Congressman Paul Tonko hosted a "town hall" style meeting at the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department on Wednesday, Sept. 28, with residents often sharing heated comments. Tonko addressed concerns well after sunset, as seen through a window on one of the department's garage doors. Photo by John Purcell.

— Tonko quelled the buyout questions by asking everyone interested in such a program to group their names together on a list, so additional information can be distributed later.

Evacuation procedure questioned

Rotterdam Junction residents questioned why they weren’t evacuated in anticipation of possible flooding, but it appears officials simply didn’t predict the devastation.

“We have normal areas that flood … we get some water in the ballpark and that is really about it. Sometimes we got some water from the canal … but never this extent,” said Deputy Chief William Manikas. “We weren’t looking for a flank attack from behind … nor did we have any reason to watch for that, because as you guys know the flood didn’t take place until 9:30 that morning.”

DelGallo said he wasn’t sure what happened with evacuations within Rotterdam Junction.

“I really don’t know what happened on this side of the water,” said DelGallo.

An exact answer for the order of events surrounding evacuations couldn’t be given, but again Tonko said it would be looked into.

“We will work on that evacuation issue, because you deserve answers as to who called what shots,” Tonko said. “If there are lessons to be learned from this, most likely and most obviously there are, lets learn from them and put together an evacuation exercise that works so that there is not a repeat.”

Susan Torres said her parents lived on Lock Road and nearly didn’t escape the flood due to an evacuation error.

She said her 72-year-old mother called 911 once she saw water coming into her home and the dispatcher said the police would be there in about 5 minutes. If the police did come and knock on the door, her elderly parents never heard them.

Torres’ son had traveled into Rotterdam Junction the morning of the flooding and called her saying the streets were flooded and he was going to check on the couple.

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