Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Parts of Central New York remain under water after heavy rains caused extensive flooding
, forcing people to leave their homes.
On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared disaster areas in Chenango, Herkimer, Madison and Oneida counties where floodwaters are still covering much of the ground.
The Red Cross has opened emergency shelters at the Mohawk Valley Community College campus at the Jorgensen Center in Utica and space is available at the YMCA on Seneca Street in Oneida.
It is offered to residents who were forced out of their homes by the flood free of charge. The shelter can hold up to 200 people - offering them a place to sleep, a warm meal, and clean up kits.
Residents of a small trailer park along Route 365A in Oneida Castle were left with severe damage. Many were forced to evacuate instantly, with no time to save precious possessions.
“There's a lot of stuff that was sentimental value that was my mother's, my grandmother's and it is gone,” said Laurie Winn, who was forced to flee her home like many others on Friday. “I opened up my door. I said not again and the water just came right down through. I lost it. I didn't know who to call...what to do. I'm stuck.”
Winn was in the middle of renovating her trailer after it was damaged in floods a few years ago. But many people in the area say Friday's rain overwhelmed residents and rescue crews quickly.
“I've been here 38 years in this fire department and this is by far, the worst I've ever seen,” Oneida Fire Chief Gregg Myers said.
In order to prevent looting and discourage people from trying to return to their homes, an 8 p.m. curfew is in effect in the city of Oneida.
Before sunset, several people were using small boats to return to their homes to find pets. Christina Mattioli escaped with her dog, but wasn't sure where to take him for the night.
“We could stay in the shelter, but they said the dog would have to stay in the car and I'm not doing that,” Christina Mattioli said. “He's my world. I don't want anything to happen to him.”
Wanderer’s Rest Humane Association has offered to shelter some animals for a few days. Their number is (315) 761-6746.
The devastation is still hard to grasp. For Winn, after living through 3 floods, the idea of starting over is unbearable.
“It was our home. We lived here. We bought it. We worked for it. We paid for it not to go through this again,” Winn said.