Heavy downpours blanketed Western New York on Friday, causing significant flooding in several communities, including the city of Lockport where more than 3 inches of rain fell in a three-hour period prompting an early evening driving ban.
While officials in the city of Niagara Falls reported only minor flooding issues, the day-long rain event had a crippling effect on other parts of the state and Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a disaster declaration for 15 counties hit hardest by the severe storms.
Much of the city of Lockport was submerged Friday evening. During the heaviest rains, the Erie Canal stretched across Market Street at Widewaters and water gushed down the escarpment.
By 4 p.m., the Lockport Police reported 15 to 20 streets were flooded and 45 basements were underwater. Mayor Michael Tucker issued a driving ban in the city and barriers were put up on some streets. Mutual aid calls were put out to neighboring fire companies.
"The phone is ringing off the hook," said Lt. Brian Wentland, who was fielding calls at police headquarters. "A lot of streets are flooded. Extra officers are out for traffic patrol."
Residents searched for ways to get home and many found houses flooded. Flooding was widespread and knee deep in parts of the city. There were reports of gushers and residents directing traffic.
The Lockport Library and YMCA, which planned to close early in deference to the LaBatt Concert Series, suffered damage at the lower levels on their East Avenues buildings.
While Niagara Falls got its share of rain, the city's Department of Public Works Director Dave Kinney said local flooding problems were not as severe as those experienced by neighboring communities.
Kinney said several blocked catch basins contributed to a high volume of standing water on College Avenue off Highland, forcing the closure of a section of the road for a brief period. Kinney said the basins were cleared and the water drained away, allowing for the road to be reopened in a matter of hours.