MORAVIA — Floodwaters forced about 40 people to be evacuated from a Moravia apartment building after a powerful thunderstorm swept through Cayuga County.

Heavy rain at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday flooded roads and knocked out power to thousands of homes in the area.

Flash flooding brought traffic to a standstill in some areas, as culverts and stormwater systems became overwhelmed.

The Mill Stream Court affordable housing complex at 24 Aurora St., Moravia, was inundated by the overflowing Mill Creek, and area firefighters were called to help residents get safely out of the building.

Moravia Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Jason Withers said firefighters also moved personal equipment, like oxygen machines, for residents. 

"Everybody who was in need got what they need at the moment," Withers said.

According to Withers, water had seeped into the back doors of the facility and then into the carpet. Mildew and mold damage is possible. 

"It's going to be a big cleanup process," he said.

Withers guessed that those who live on the second floor may be able to return within a week, but those who lived in areas closer to the creek could be displaced for a longer period. 

Matthew Smokoski, director of the Four Town First Aid Squad in Moravia — where many of the residents were taken — said Saturday evening that some of the evacuees had relatives coming to pick them up while others would be assisted with emergency housing by the American Red Cross.

Mill Stream Court resident Pat Paulson was relatively calm about the situation, remarking that being upset wasn't going to solve anything. She joked that the flood was an "adventure."

Those sitting with Paulson included residents George R. Chaffee and Irene Powers, along with Irene's son, Garry Fitts.

"All I can tell you is we're up a creek without a paddle," Chaffee said.

Several private homes in Moravia were also reported to be flooded, and the Moravia Fire Department was gathering portable pumps and personnel from other area fire departments while working to keep up with an increasing number of calls for assistance.

Officials reported that several roads in the southern part of Cayuga County were washed out or otherwise impassable because of high water.

At about 4:45 p.m., Cayuga County 911 reported that Waldron Road in Union Springs was flooded between Spring Street and Powers Road and would be closed until further notice.

Area fire departments were busy responding to calls of downed trees, and flooded basements and roadways into the evening.

The Auburn Fire Department said that it sent two trucks and six firefighters to the southern part of the county to assist. In the city, firefighters said that the wheel of a vehicle become stuck in a manhole after the cover had been pushed off by overflowing water on South Street.

County authorities were dispatched Saturday night to investigate a report of something "shiny" in the water in Moravia, in the event that it was gas or oil, according to the Auburn Fire Department.

The Auburn water treatment facility reported that 2.29 inches of rain fell in the city Saturday, with about 1 inch of that coming in about 20 minutes during the storm.

The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office urged motorists to use extreme caution while traveling through the southern portion of Onondaga County Saturday night as several roads remained flooded and covered with debris. The areas affected were from Route 20 south to the county line between Pompey and Skaneateles, via a news release from the sheriff's office.

Elsewhere, the mayor of Utica declared a state of emergency Saturday, and Oneida and Madison counties issued advisories requesting no unnecessary travel and urging drivers to watch for road closures.

Shortly after the storm passed through, New York State Electric & Gas reported 2,000 customers without power in Cayuga County. The outages included 236 customers in Auburn, 295 in Aurelius, 136 in Fleming, 898 in Owasco and 380 in Sennett.

By 9:15 p.m., some power had been restored, but there were still 374 outages in Sennett, 96 in Sempronious and 64 in Moravia.

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