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Senator LEHMAN. Thank you very much for that statement. Do your colleagues wish to say anything?
Mr. O'REILLEY. Mr. Mollenhauer is more interested in the Wallkill Valley, sir.
Mr. MOLLENHAUER. With my brother and myself, we operate about four different farms. One is along the Rondout Creek and the others are along the Wallkill. The Wallkill River has been backed up by a bridge over route 32 so that it overflows our land. In the August flood we had another river, much larger than the original Wallkill River, going over our land, bypassing the bridge. There was about 4 feet of water over route 32. In October we had over 6 feet. It came within 2 feet of our barn. In fact, it was up on our silo. Came within 2 feet of the barn floor.
I may speak for the farmers. I am sorry they were not able to be here. We have a group of farmers. We are located right next to the town of Esopus and also the town of New Falls. We are in a triangle. A group of four farmers there estimated our damage at over $30,000. Our land lies a little higher than the others. But we had one patch of corn in August that we could see the tassels. The corn averaged 12 feet high. In the October flood we couldn't even see the tassels. They were gone out of sight.
The water was more than a mile wide in the Wallkill Valley. It created islands all over. Roads were impassable. There is a representative here from the village of Tilson. I believe he knows the Governor. He was acaptain in the New York Police Department, and I wish he would just tell how the village of Tilson was isolated.
I do have one word to say also in regard to the Episcopal church there. I have been a life-long member of it. The Bishop sent word through our rector, the Reverend David Arnold, that he hopes this committee will be able to do something for flood control.
I think our church will have to be closed. In August the foundation started to crack. Before we were able to completely fix it, the foundation was gone. It is a beautiful little stone church, and I think it is going to be entirely wiped out. We had just finished paying for the organ in August, and then we got a loan of an organ from one of the organ compaines, and that is also gone. Everything is entirely wiped out. The church is in ruins.
And the bishop hopes that something will be done for this area.
I may say in regard to the rector of our church and the rector of St. Peters, both of these men gave away most of their clothes. The only thing they had left on were the suits on their back. They gave their clothing to the people hurt in the disaster.
Senator LEHMAN. That is a report we have gotten from a great many people.
Senator Ives. Could you afford to go ahead and borrow the money and rebuild the church, or is the land so turned up and destroyed that it is impossible to build on it again?
Mr. MOLLENHAUER. No, the land is not affected.
Mr. MOLLENHAUER. I think the church would pretty near have to be torn down.
Senator Ives. It probably would not be worth your while to tear it down and rebuild there; would it?
Mr. MOLLENHAUER. Hardly. I believe the thought is to give the land to the village as a park at the present time, unless we can get some action from the diocese.
Mr. Duffy. Senators, some of the previous witnesses testified as to the furniture being washed away of these people that could least atford to lose their possessions. I very strongly feel that those people should be helped, and if it is possible in enacting this legislation that they be thought of—in other words, the people who can least afford to lose all they have built up over a term of years.
Of course, as Mr. O'Reilly has said, he has pretty well covered the field as to what happened in Rosendale. There isn't any question that immediate help to alleviate the condition that we have there now would be very helpful. It might relieve this mental anguish of the people.
Last Sunday night we had continuous rain, and of course the radio told us it was going to continue until Monday afternoon. Well, thank God it stopped about 11 o'clock Sunday night. But if it had continued, there unquestionably would have been the same condition we had in the October flood.
I went up to my office, and I moved my stuff up as high as I figured this flood would reach, and I felt that even doing that I really had not brought it up out of danger. The people down below me were on their porches all night, the lights were going all night, the big majority of the residents didn't sleep, but they stayed on the river banks, and it was just a question of will it come up or will the rain stop.
We really would appreciate some help to temporarily alleviate the condition that we have.
We know that these islands are in the creek. We know there are man-made obstacles that have been put there as construction has been done. We would sincerely like to see something done.
Senator Ives. Mr. Chairman, I think it is rather interesting that both the Rondout and the Esopus have large dams on them, and yet the large dams, which are larger than most flood-control dams, apparently did nothing to prevent them from finally having a flood there. They overflowed.
Mr. Duffy. As you mentioned before, small dike walls, a clearing of the channels, would be all that would be really necessary. I do not believe large dams would answer the problem.
Senator Ives. You do not approve of large dams.
Senator Ives. Once they get filled, they are no good at all. The water has to go someplace. That has been demonstrated in the floods you have had there.
Mr. MOLLENHAUER. Senator, the dam up in Lackawanna didn't overflow. But I think the heavens just tipped over with the water.
Senator Ives. The dam did not overflow, but the dam did not take the water.
Mr. MOLLENHAUER. But where New York City can help us, on the Shokan Dam, they are connected on the Hudson River. They can throw this water away from the dam, and it doesn't have to overflow. They can just dump the water. There is a valve by the Hudson River where they can dump this water.
Senator Ives. I was not thinking entirely of your situation locally there when I raised that question. I was thinking of the large retaining dams that are supposed to hold the water back in time of flood. But that is an interesting aspect of the question.
Mr. DUFFY. Actually, a big expenditure of money for these large dams I don't agree with. I think that in our situation, a clearing of the channel, a widening and clearing, and in some cases small dike walls, would answer the purpose.
Senator Ives. That has been my own personal theory on the matter. But I was a little shaken here a while back when all these floods occurred. I am glad to get your viewpoint, because you people speak with authority. You have got the dams.
Mr. O'REILLEY. There is one thing to be said about these dams, too. Where New York City has established dams and reservoirs, the streams into which the water fed have shrunk to fit a smaller stream of water, and when the full supply is dumped back into them, they are not capable of holding it. And that again creates a flood condition.
Senator Ives. Wouldn't that be true where you have the large floodcontrol dams?
Mr. MOLLENHAUER. It would be the same thing.
Mr. O'REILLEY. Well, as I understand it, a flood-control dam would fill up in time of heavy water and be emptied as the water went down; in other words, the flood-control dam should be empty at the beginning of any particular storm and fill up gradually during the storm, to reduce the flow of water down the creek or whatever body is taking it, until such time as it overflows.
Senator Ives. Then you would need your deeper channels and retaining walls.
Mr. O'REILLEY. Yes, sir—channels, retaining walls, and everything.
Senator Ives. In other words, in the final analysis, it is your deep channels, dikes, and retaining walls that are the principal safeguards against this thing happening.
Mr. OʻREILLEY. Yes, sir. We have a copy of the Rosendale paper and some pictures of the flood there. Of course, we didn't get pictures of the second flood. I don't think anybody had the heart to take them at the time. We were much too busy and chased out of town before the flood reached its height.
Senator LEHMAN. Mr. Zimmer, have you anything to add ?
Mr. ZIMMER. They spoke about Tilson. I live in Tilson, part of the township of Rosendale. It is situated between the Wallkill River and Rondout Creek. At both the last floods we were isolated in Tilson, unable to get out until the water receded. In the last one, in October, the Government sent word that they would bring food to Tilson by means of helicopter so we would not starve. That is how bad the waters in Rosendale affected the little hamlet of Tilson.
As has been said here, the relief is there if we can get the Government doing it for us. What has to be done is drain the Rondout Creek from the bridge on Route 32 almost down to the Hudson River, where she joins the Wallkill. If that is cleaned out and drained out, I think it will save Rosendale. After she leaves that bridge there is nothing but turns and bends and it makes a bottleneck.
Also, the throughway went through there. They put large abutments in the creek. This stops the flow of water going down, and it backs up into Rosendale. Along with that, the throughway authorities bought gravel from an island in the creek, and when they started digging out that island, they made a path from the island to the south shore of the creek. There is no way for the water to run off there, and it runs to the north of that, and that caused a lot of damage there because there is no way for it to get out. It just comes back. In Main and James Streets in Rosendale they get the full benefit of that water.
Senator LEIMAN. Thank you very much, indeed.
ROSENDALE AREA FLOOD CONTROL COMMITTEE,
November 7, 1955. Hon. HERBERT LEHMAN,
United States Senator, Washington, D.C. DEAR SENATOR LEHMAN: On Friday, November 4, in the afternoon I testified before you and Senator Ives on behalf of the Rosendale Area Flood Control Committee. I outlined the damages done by the August and October floods and tried to convey the feelings of the local residents regarding future floods.
During the testimony I recommended that some immediate action be taken to clear the Rondout Creek from Route 32 at Rosendale north to LeFever Falls and relieve the local people of a worry that will again permit them to sleep in wet weather. It was called to my attention later that I neglected to mention a short but dangerous section of the Rondout Creek at the southern end of Rosendale.
I will appreciate it if my testimony can be amended to include a recommendation that the banks of the creek be restored to a condition offering some protection and that the channel be deepened to contain the creek waters in that section near Route 213 where the bridge was damaged and a large house completely washed out. This is of great concern to the people some several hundred yards downstream from the bridge.
Realizing that you listened to a great deal of similar testimony before ours, we appreciate your patience and sincere interest in hearing us out. Sincerely yours,
EDMUND J. O'REILLEY, President. (A similar letter was addressed to Senator Ives and will be found in the files of the committee.)
Senator LEIMAN. Has Supervisor Demerest arrived!
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM M. DEMEREST, MEMBER, BOARD OF
SUPERVISORS, TOWN OF CHESTER, ORANGE COUNTY, N. Y. Mr. DEMEREST. My township is located to the south of us here, right next to the town of Goshen. I am particularly concerned with the muck-land area which we have. A great deal of the area of my township is based upon the muck-land farmers. There are many vegetable and truck farms there-lettuce, onions, celery, carrots, and so on. The last two floods just wiped out those farms almost completely and our farmers lost a great deal of money and time and effort and work. And they didn't fare so well this year on the market. I am not just sure what can be done about it. I am hoping that if this committee is interested particularly in flood insurance I would certainly go along with you there because our farmers need something to safeguard them.
There is one thing, of course. Before World War II, the Army Engineer Corps surveyed Cramon Creek which flows through there, and at one point there is a rock ledge that holds the water back, and that of course in time of flood makes it worse. We are a small area. but I am very concerned about it, because some of the men are leaving farms because of nothing else to do, because they have lost so much in these floods and in floods before.
I feel there can be some type of flood-control insurance, based on Government insurance. I feel that would benefit these farmers very much. Or if there can be some relief of the flood situation that would help us tremendously.
Senator LEHMAN. We are certainly going to go into it very carefully. Thank you very much.
I think that concludes the witnesses that were scheduled. Although the hour is very late, I would be very glad if anybody has any contribution to make to this committee in the way of counsel or information. We would be very glad to hear from them briefly.
I understand Mr. Augustus C. Wallace, past president of the State Insurance Agents Association, and also a member of the executive committee of the National Insurance Agents Association is here.
STATEMENT OF AUGUSTUS C. WALLACE, GOSHEN, N. Y.
Mr. WALLACE. Senator, we in the insurance business are very much interested in this. These people are our friends and customers. We want to cooperate with your committee in any way we can. We stand willing, and I believe able, to repeat what we did during the days of the War Damage Corporation, and we hope that when a decision is made in regard to flood relief insurance, that the efficiently organized insurance business may have an opportunity again to serve the Government and serve the people.
Senator LEHMAN. Thank you very much. I want to point out, Mr. Wallace, that in the bill that I drafted, that is provided for. We provide for the greatest possible use of the insurance companies.
I again want to repeat what I said to you early this afternoon personally. We expected yesterday to hear from Mr. Herd, who is, as I understand, the representative of the insurance association. But he unfortunately was not able to come. He asked to be excused from testifying, much to our regret, as he did not have the report which he wanted to submit to us ready. We shall certainly hear him and possibly other members of the insurance industry at a later date.
I understand there is a representative from Dutchess County here, and we would be very glad to hear from him.
STATEMENT OF A. SCOTT WARTHIN, JR., ON BEHALF OF DUTCHESS
COUNTY WATER CONSERVATION COMMITTEE
Mr. WARTHIN. My name is A. S. Warthin, and I am here on behalf of the Dutchess County Water Conservation Committee, which was set up in 1950 by the Board of Supervisors of Dutchess County to advise them in matters relating to water conservation and control. The committee itself has no powers other than advisory powers.
Since 1950, the committee has been studying water problems along Wappinger Creek in Dutchess County. On August 19 and October 16 of this year, the highest and the third highest flood flows since gaging began in 1928 were recorded. These were about 20,000 and 8,000 cubic feet per second respectively and were, of course, major floods.