Cortland Sheriff Mark Helms now says every inmate from the County jail has been evacuated, after heavy rain yesterday (January 24) caused leaks in the roof that led to major flooding inside the jail.
Those inmates have been temporarily relocated to three different surrounding county jails.
According to Helms, the roof began leaking in various spots during the early morning hours yesterday, continuing to worsen throughout the morning as the rain continued to fall. Around 8:00 a.m., the flooding made its way into the dorm area and accumulated several inches on the floor.
Sheriff Helms says the evacuation went extremely well but at this time and at no time were any inmates of staff members in danger. The exact extent of the water damage in the jail is unknown.
Helms addressed those in attendance just before last night’s County Legislative Session, but only after first addressing the Legislature behind closed doors in a nearly hour-long executive session.
Kevin Whitney, Chair of the County Legislature, later emphasized just how dire this situation has gotten:
“We are literally talking about taking the complete roof off the building and fixing it now that the inmates are all out,” Whitney said. “These are things that are only being talked about, but there’s also water damage to the walls, the HVAC, the insulation, the electric–the building incurred more damage than it ever has before.
Sheriff Helms says the situation is someone in limbo now as the County awaits specific direction from the State Department of Corrections.
He was called back to town early yesterday from a Sheriffs’ Convention in Albany and said the situation was addressed right away by state officials, who also visited Cortland yesterday to begin assessment on the situation.
Anyone interested in finding out where a friend or family member is currently being housed can call (607)-756-4275 to speak with Officers for more information.