Sheriff: Dozens of Cortland County Jail inmates evacuated after roof leak

Cortland County Sheriff Mark Helms, right, and Undersheriff Bud Rigg address members of the public Thursday night regarding a roof leak at the County Jail (Cortland Voice/YouTube)

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Cortland County legislators opened their monthly meeting Thursday night by calling an executive session to discuss a matter that, if made public, "could pose a threat to the health and public safety"of county residents.

After 45 minutes of closed discussions, Sheriff Mark Helms spilled the beans: Several leaks in the roof of the jail forced the sheriff's office to evacuate a majority of the inmates and transport them to nearby jails, Sheriff Mark Helms told legislators and an audience of about 25 people at tonight's meeting.

"We had numerous spots where the water was flooding through to the point where we don't feel safe enough keeping all the inmates there," Helms said. "Through the course of this afternoon we've been going through steps to make sure they're out of harm's way.

"Our dorm area had 2-3 inches of water on the floor," he added.

Some inmates have been housed out to different locations and there is no threat to public safety at this time, Undersheriff Bud Rigg said.

The jail, located at the corner of Greenbush Street and Port Watson Street, was constructed in 1990. It was designed to hold a maximum capacity of 50 inmates, but today's overcrowded jail has housed upwards of 100 inmates.

Sheriff Helms and other law enforcement officials have openly called for a new jail facility, but any proposals have either stalled or been shot down by lawmakers.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Watch the full meeting: