Flood Update

The chronological timeline of blog posts is being interrupted to bring you this current update on the situation of the Lois McClure and her future plans…

We had planned to visit Fort Edward, NY as part of our Farm, Forest and Fisheries tour; it’s a familiar place with great history and a community in which we have many friends. After riding out Hurricane Irene on the Otter Creek in Vergennes and learning of the devastation in the Mohawk Valley and Upper Hudson, we were even more motivated than ever to visit this part of the waterway and try to provide a message of hope.

Headed to the canal
John Tichonuk stands bow watch, as the Lois heads to the canal system

On our way south we had great visits to Shoreham, VT, and Whitehall, NY, and entered the canal knowing there were storm clouds brewing to the south. Before we had even left a rainy Whitehall we were told that the upper Hudson was back in flood and had already forced a closing of the canal below Fort Edward. However, we were hopeful that with a little luck we would be able to transit south to Waterford by Friday. Waterford had been hard hit in the first flood and was in a state of recovery and the Waterford Farmers Market was planning to reconstitute itself on Sunday and we planned to be there. If that worked and with good weather predicted to be coming, we would continue with visits to Crescent, NY on the Mohawk and Troy’s incredible famers market. From there we would turn north toward home while hosting school programs along the Champlain Canal and Lake Champlain. These best-laid plans were not to be.

It has rained for three days and nights here and the steady rain has put the already stressed system over the top. Places in the Mohawk Valley and Upper Hudson that had been flooded by Irene have now been flooded again. The severity of this prolonged weather event is affecting so many people and infrastructure that in consultation with our friends at the NY Canal Corporation, we have accepted that leaving the Champlain Canal is not possible. Our inconvenience pales to the suffering and losses being experienced by the residents along these waterways that have overflown their banks and exceeded flood stage. Our hearts go out to these communities in New York and Vermont.

Lock 8As we wait just below Lock C8, we have already begun rescheduling the final month of the travels to maximize our presence on the Champlain Canal and Lake Champlain. In the midst of this setback we have a tremendous bright spot to report: our friends on the Canal Corps’ historic Tugboat Urger, also scheduled for an fall educational mission, will join us for the final month of school and community stops. We look forward to visiting communities all along the waterway and sharing the story of Farm, Forest and Fishery along with the history and archaeology that makes our region so special. We also look forward to a return to Waterford, the Mohawk and Hudson River in 2012 and wish these communities every good fortune in their efforts to repair and rebuild.

Art Cohn