Niagara Gazette

January 7, 2014

Ice jams send water over the banks on Cayuga Island

By Rick Pfeiffer and Mark Scheer rick.pfeiffer@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — High winds and lots of ice in the Niagara River sent water over the banks of Cayuga Island on Tuesday.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning around 9 a.m. that remained in effect for more than 12 hours. 

Falls police and public works crews monitored the situation throughout the day. 

Parts of the Robert Moses Parkway between the LaSalle Expressway and Buffalo Avenue were closed from late afternoon through the early evening Tuesday. As of press time, the expressway was open except for the portion that runs under the Grand Island Bridge.

The flooding was blamed on ice jams at the New York Power Authority water intakes. Ice breakers from the Power Authority and Ontario Power Generation worked to break up the ice and by late afternoon appeared to be making progress. 

“The water level gauges at the LaSalle Yacht Club have held steady for the last several hours,” Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said in the early evening. “The efforts of the ice breakers seem to be working and the wind has diminished so that has helped as well.”

No damage was reported on the island from the rising waters. A mid-day reading taken at the yacht club gauges registered as “slightly below” zero damage water elevation.

A statement from the Power Authority said, “The NYPA and OPG ice breakers—the William H. Latham and the Niagara Queen II—will remain in the water as long as needed to flush ice over the falls and prevent ice build-up at the water intakes.”

Residents of the island remained in their homes and Dyster said he hoped that would continue.

“At this point, we are leaving people in place,” the mayor said. “If the water does rise, which we don’t expect it to, we will evacuate. But we don’t see any need to do that now.”

At press time, Dyster said it appeared that water levels were dropping.

“We think we’re past the worst of it, “ the mayor said Tuesday night.