Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Catskills Flash Flood Update: Six Missing, Three Presumed Dead

About the Photo:
Sullivan County Deputy Fire Coordinator Bill Lothrop looks through debris by the foundation of a home that was swept away with an elderly couple inside The couple along with another neighbor who was also swept away with his home are still missing as well as several motorists who were traveling on Rt. 206 in Colchester when an 8-foot wall raged through them.

recordonline: Six missing, three believed dead in flash flood
Homes, bridges washed away

5:30 p.m. - Six people are missing and three are presumed dead after a flash flood washed away several homes and damaged bridges just north of the Sullivan County hamlet of Roscoe last night.

Flood waters swept homes and cars away, ripped up pavement and dumped tons of mud and rocks along an 8-mile stretch of Route 206 from a mile north of Roscoe to Route 30 near the Pepacton Reservoir in the Delaware County Town of Colchester.

An elderly woman is presumed dead after an 8-foot-high wall of water away two trailer homes in Colchester. Gertrude Melvin was visiting her daughter when the storm hit. She was unable to reach a rescue rope and was killed after water swept her away, according to her family.

Melvin’s daughter, Elaine Finkle, is a 19-year employee in Sullivan County’s Office of the Aging. Finkle’s husband, George Finkle, works for New York State Electric & Gas. A trailer belonging to George’s parents, who lived next door, was also washed away. According to one of Elaine Finkle’s co-workers, the family lost their automobiles, their home and everything in it.

Also presumed dead are Fred and Marjorie Shutts, whose home was ripped off its foundation in the same area.

Paul Piatk, the Shutts’ neighbor, saw the couple standing on the porch around 7 p.m. An 8-foot wave swept their home away. Piatk said he saw state Trooper Joe Decker dive into the water, but Decker was forced to swim back to the bank.

“It was just a big, huge wave that swept everything away,” Piatk said. “The wave came down within two minutes; the garage, the car, the motorcycle, the wave just took it.”
recordonline: Photo Gallery: Flooding: Search and Rescue (WABC):
Several missing after flooding
At least one woman confirmed dead

Also, four homes were washed away by the floods. Residents of between 15 and 18 homes in Roscoe, at the Sullivan County border, were evacuated. Drivers along Route 7 had to be rescued from their cars.

A little good news: Elderly couple rescued from flood waters

Roscoe -- When Lajos and Susanna Erdos left a friend’s house in Walton in Delaware County to travel to their home to the Village of Ellenville in Ulster County Tuesday night, they had no idea what they would encounter on a road they have taken many times before.

The elderly Hungarian couple was driving on State Route 206 around 7:30 p.m. when they were met with heavy rain, then hail, then rising waters, all within minutes.

Mrs. Erdos said she told her husband to drive on the left side of the road just because it was rising so much quicker on the right, but within a few minutes, they had to pull over due to the quickly rising rush of water coming down the road. That is where they stayed for over night until being rescued early this morning.

“We sat there for 11 hours with little food or water, and the water was up to our waists,” Mrs. Erdos told while having a bite to eat at a Red Cross Disaster Relief Center setup at the Roscoe Middle School. “It was so terrifying. We didn’t think we were going to come out alive. We both thought that that was it for the both us.”

The two, both in their 80s, were rescued Wednesday morning and taken to the disaster relief center, where they said they would stay until Mrs. Erdos’ daughter who lives locally would pick them up and take them home to Ellenville.

Mr. and Mrs. Erdos discuss their ordeal

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