‘You would not believe the devastation’

Orange County. One dead, many motorists stranded as up to eight inches of rain fell on parts of eastern Orange County and elsewhere in the Hudson Valley.

| 12 Jul 2023 | 02:02

The impacts stemming from Sunday’s flash flood are still being felt across the area and Town of Woodbury Supervisor Thomas Burke said Tuesday that access to the Bear Mountain Bridge from Route 17 in Woodbury may remain shut down for quite some time.

“The information we received is that the area up on Route 6 by Long Mountain circle will be closed indefinitely,” Burke said when asked if he knew when the exit for Bear Mountain may reopen. “Many of those roads collapsed and washed away.”

The closure of the heavily travelled Long Mountain circle is noteworthy because it cuts off a key access point for eastbound motorists on Route 6 seeking to reach the Palisades Interstate Parkway and Bear Mountain Bridge while also preventing motorists from accessing Route 6 toward Woodbury from the Palisades.

For residents commuting to New York City or Westchester, for example, the shutdown may mean finding an alternative to the Bear Mountain Bridge or Palisades Interstate Parkway for an extended period of time.

The Woodbury Fire Department responded to that area Sunday afternoon to help rescue motorists stranded in their vehicles in the rising flood waters. Woodbury Fire Chief Chris Burke said that Tuxedo is now covering calls on Seven Lakes Drive, which is in Woodbury’s jurisdiction, as a result of the ongoing road closures.

Supervisor Burke added that Trout Brook Road will also remain closed indefinitely and portions of Smith Clove Road will continue to be open to limited traffic. Both are county roads.

“We will do anything we can to help”

On Monday, Monroe Supervisor Anthony Cardone visited Highland Falls along with Pat Patterson, Monroe’s highway superintendent, to offer assistance. The Highland Falls-West Point area was among the hardest hit with as much as eight inches of rain Sunday.

“You would not believe the devastation there,” Cardone said. “Roads are washed away and they cannot even get to their sewer plant. Pat actually used to be the highway supervisor over there and we were there to let them know that we will do anything we can to help. It is as bad as I think you will ever see.”

Closer to home, Cardone said Monroe wasn’t hit nearly as hard, with town personnel tending to clogged culverts and flooded catch basins. One resident was assisted after their driveway washed away.

Flood victim identified

The Highlands woman who died while attempting to escape her home in rising flood waters Sunday has been identified as Pamela Nugent, 43, of Fort Montgomery. According to a report in the New York Post, Nugent’s body was recovered by rescuers at the bottom of a ravine near her home.

“She was trying to get through (the flooding) with her dog and she was overwhelmed by tidal wave-type waves,” the paper quoted Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus as saying. Neuhaus added that the flooding dislodged boulders that then slammed into the home, damaging the structure.

The article included an account from a neighbor who said Nugent’s fiancé and her father made it to safety. It is unclear if her dog survived.

Neuhaus joined New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and other officials in the village of Highland Falls Monday to survey the damage and offer assistance.

Fort Montgomery and Highland Falls are located within the town of Highlands.

Areas that remain closed
Roads that remain closed as of Wednesday, July 12:
∎Route 9W south between Cornwall and Highlands
∎Route 32 north and south between Cornwall and Woodbury
∎Route 218 north and south between Cornwall and Highlands
∎Route 6 from Route 32 and Route 17 in Central Valley to the Long Mountain Traffic Circle
∎The Palisades Interstate Parkway from Bear Mountain Bridge to exit 14
∎The Bear Mountain Bridge, westbound traffic
∎The Popolopen Bridge/Route 9W north from Bear Mountain Circle in town of Highlands
∎Bear Mountain State Park