Black Dirt farmers brace for more flooding ahead of back-to-back storms
The Black Dirt region of Orange County is renowned for its fertile soil and farmland, but lately it’s also become known for its flooding.
Hard-hit farmers are now bracing for more crop-damaging water in the storms ahead.
News 12 was sent images of an excavator buried beneath dirt and floodwaters during the storm last week, in a field off Roundhill Road in the Town of Warwick. On Friday, News 12 found crews seemingly trying to dig out the buried machine where it remains stuck in the mud before the weather conditions are expected to worsen.
The area had several inches of rain during the most recent storm and has yet to recover before the next two that are in the forecast, starting on Saturday.
“It took a very long time to recede,” says fourth-generation Black Dirt farmer Chris Pawelski.
Pawelski showed News 12 where his fields have standing water on Pulaski Highway, not far from the Wallkill River. He says last year’s storms damaged half his crops and showed us videos of flooding over the summer.
“The Wallkill has not properly been maintained by the government and the fault for this lies there,” says Pawelski.
Pawelski says Black Dirt famers have asked federal officials to dredge the Wallkill River and nearby Quaker Creek for decades but that without any help, the problems have gotten worse.
“I have big concerns,” says Pawelski.
News 12 reached out to local federal representatives for information and is waiting to hear back.