Niagara Gazette — Mother Nature still packs quite a punch.
After a week of 90-degree, sunny days, with only limited cloud cover and spotty rain showers, the hammer fell on Niagara Falls, Lewiston, Cambria, Wheatfield and the Town of Niagara Friday night and early Saturday morning.
The western end of Niagara County experienced widespread power outages, downed tree limbs — or, in come cases, entire trees — broken or loose power lines and flooding as rain and wind pounded the area for at least eight hours. Houses were destroyed, cars were smashed and basements were disaster zones.
The storm did especially heavy damage to the Niagara Falls wastewater treatment plant, which flooded after Mayor Paul Dyster said a “water surge” overwhelmed the facility’s pumps.
“The pumps couldn’t fight the pressure and the facility flooded,” he said. “The pumps went completely underwater. As of (Saturday afternoon), there are pumps in place draining the plant. There are spots where you can see the water level decreasing. The facility was under 30 feet of water and it needed to be pumped out.”
Repair work at the plant will require some temporary help already on its way from Pittsburgh to get the facility working again, but Dyster said the plant is not currently operational. Though this is the case, he said the shut down won’t affect either drinking water or facilities like toilets or showers at all.
It will have an affect, though, on what water is released back into nature. Dyster said the plant is only able to treat incoming water at the “highest possible standards” before releasing it back into the Niagara River. It’s a situation he’s informed the state Department of Environmental Conservation about, a step he needed to take in declaring a partial state of emergency in the city.
Throughout the night, Dyster said he and several officials traveled the city to make sure safety was never compromised. But it was a close call in the College Avenue underpass near Highland Avenue.