CANAJOHARIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – There was an alarming amount of water rescues in one local community.
First responders rescued 13 people from three different locations along the Canajoharie creek Wednesday afternoon. They were trapped for several hours by unexpected, rising flood waters.
“He was really crying and he was really panicking when he got here,” Fritz Traudt, of Canajoharie, said. “He thought his whole family was going to drown.”
Traudt says at around 6 p.m., he was startled by a rattling knock at his front door.
It was a young boy, dripping wet begging him to call 911.
He explained that his family had been swimming in a popular watering hole behind his Traudt’s Floral Avenue home, when they were suddenly overcome by the rapidly rising water.
“From multiple witnesses, it was a wall of water that came down,” Canajoharie Police Chief Bryan MacFadden said.
Fritz, like many others, was puzzled. It hadn’t even rained.
“We had very little rain, but Schoharie County got hit,” Chief MacFadden said. “In just a matter of minutes, it went from a meandering creek to a white water torrent. So they went to high ground and that’s where they were stuck.”
“They had no time to get from where they were sitting to safe territory before they were swept away,” Fritz said.
In fact, Fritz says they had to leave their car because their phones and keys were swept away in the current.
He and the little boy watched as first responders sprang into action.
“The little guys they put them on a seat like kids on a sled in the winter and put the two of them in and strapped them in and hauled them up,” Fritz said. “I had him get in the car with me and drove him over so that he could see his parents and they could see him.”
That’s just about the time the second call came in.
“There were more people stuck up at Wintergreen Park, which is an entirely different scenario because it’s narrower with very high sides. It’s like 100 foot cliff faces.”
A father and his two daughters stranded on the west side of the gorges. Once they were helped, it was on to the next one.
A 120 foot rope rescue, pulling two more to safety.
“A lot of professionals here, but an incredible bunch of volunteers who really helped out in every conceivable way,” Chief MacFadden said.
Fritz was one of them.
A longtime member of the volunteer fire department himself, he was in it for the long haul, rendering aid and escorting the departments that came in from out of town to help out.
“So I went down with my little blue car with my blue light on, yeah it was an active evening,” Fritz said.
Once all was said and done, all 13 victims walked away with only scrapes and bruises.
“Lots of hugs and kisses.”