Record rainfall caused flash flooding in region

Jul 13, 2017

Heavy rains caused flash flooding along a number roadways across Erie County. The National Weather Service reports 2.29 inches of rain fell Thursday, breaking the old record of 1.86 inches in 1956. WBFO News has team coverage of the flooding. 

This was flooding along the1500 block of Broadway in Buffalo Thursday.
Credit Photo from Erie County Executive Twitter feed

The rain created flash flooding and there were multiple reports of flooding across parts of the western New York region. 

In the city of Buffalo, multiple agencies spent the day dealing with the results of heavy rains and flooding. Mayor Byron Brown said the city’s fire department conducted five swift-water rescues, and saved seven individuals who were trapped in their cars. 

“One was a very serious rescue where the water was almost up to the roof of the vehicle. The Sewer Authority has responded to a number of the viaducts where we have seen flooding. There have been a couple of areas where flooding has been as high as four to five feet,” said Brown.

Brown estimates the motorists, who became trapped, simply got stuck in rising waters. He said no one suffered any injuries during the rescues, and reminds residents to avoid areas of standing water and any places blocked by cones and barriers.

“Just use common sense. If you are approaching an area where you see standing water, where it looks like the water is pretty deep, not to try to drive through it. Turn around and drive in the other direction,” said Brown.

Water also rose at Delaware Park at Hoyt Lake. Staff from the Olmstead Parks Conservancy jumped into action to protect one of the city’s newly renovated venues - the Marcy Casino.

“Individuals at Marcy acted very quickly to remove equipment and materials from the basement of the Casino, where there was flooding. While there was some damage, it was minor,” remarked the Mayor.

None of the damage affected the renovations at the building, which was formerly a boathouse.

“That was a lot of water that fell in a very, very short period of time,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.     

The County Executive telling WBFO News they warned motorist Thursday to be careful along the rain soaked roadways from the town of Boston to Marilia and from Cheektowaga back to the city of Buffalo.   

Flooding at Como Park.
Credit Photo from Erie County Executive Twitter feed

“You’re under the assumption a road that you’re driving on, especially in the more rural areas may seem fine and then you will come down over a rise and you will find out that the road is flooded,” remarked Poloncarz.     

A number of basements in the county buildings had two to three inches of water. The County Social Services space at 478-Main Street also had flooding and employees were moved. Department of Public Works is working to clear out storm sewers. 

In downtown Buffalo, other buildings saw similar issues according to Mayor Brown.

“There was some flooding at the Buffalo City Court in the area where we have the City of Buffalo holding center facility. It was necessary to relocate three prisoners who were in the holding facility to the county holding center,” noted Brown.

The Mayor said calculations of the cost of damage to city property are underway, but initial assessments indicate that like the Casino, damage is minor. Brown credits the proactive responses by city staff. However Brown said initial assessments indicate the damage to be minor.

Poloncarz said there are reports of children swimming in the pounding water. He warns parents that could be very dangerous because sanitary sewer water could be mixed in those flooded spots.

“Parents exercise caution with their kids. There are children we have heard that have been out swimming in these new pounds and lakes, but that’s not very healthy because that water can get mixed in not just with the storm sewer, but the sanitary sewer so there is matter in there you would not want your kid to swim in,” noted Poloncarz.

The County Executive reported a number of roads flooded in parts of the county.  Eckhart Road is flooded at Route 391 in the Town of Boston,  Jamison in East Aurora is flooded east of Maple and the Department of Public Works crews worked to clean up a plugged culvert at Back Creek in Boston. 

Jamison in East Aurora is flooded east of Maple.Credit Photo from Erie County Executive Twitter feedEdit | Remove

Poloncarz has also reported on his Twitter feed that water is high at Como Park.

"As a precaution the islands in the creek are closed & we are asking people to exercise caution along the water," Poloncarz Tweeted. 

Cayuga Creek at Bowen Road in Lancaster also rose over 10-feet. According to the Lancaster Emergency Management Twitter feed that's 2.5 feet above flood stage.

There was also residential basement flooding reported in parts of the region.

Initially the rain caused trouble for motorists on the Kensington Expressway and parts of the Thruway near William Street in Cheektowaga. 

WBFO’s Mark Scott was on the road at the height of the rain storm.

“Both directions of the Thruway were at a standstill for much of the morning and early afternoon. Flooding closed Union Road just south of Walden Avenue. Walden itself was closed between Dick Road and Transit because of flooding. The William Street underpass at the Thruway was shut down as was the eastbound Kensington Expressway at Union Round. Harlem Road was tied up by traffic as people sought an alternate route. Complicating the drive was a truck accident on the southbound 190 at Seneca Street that took several hours to clear. Though the rain has stopped for now, motorists are likely to encounter standing water from clogged storm drains. Reporting from Cheektowaga,” reported Scott.

Flash flood watch continues into Friday.