Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

June 30, 2013

HOPKINS: A water-logged day to remember

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Friday started out like any ordinary day, but it quickly changed into one of those days you won’t forget for a long time.

One of the first things I do when I reach the office is visit a few websites to see what’s happening in the world and nearby. Among those visits is Facebook, where there are a few good pages to check for stories.

While on Facebook, I was stunned to see images of flooding in the Utica area. I grew up near Utica and have several friends who live in the areas affected by the high water.

I became particularly concerned when my high school friend Kit posted a picture of his street in Herkimer under water. He lives about a block away from the house I lived in for two years while going to college there.

Then I saw a news picture of a parking lot near my old college house. All you could see were the rooftops of a dozen cars.

I called Kit, and found out he went home to his parents’ place. He was going to be without utilities for a couple of days and his basement was flooded.

I was relieved to hear he was OK, but Friday morning was just a precursor of things to come.

As we all know, it began to rain in Lockport early Friday afternoon. The rain intensified and it didn’t let up. The rain we saw was something normally experienced for about 5 or 10 minutes in a thunderstorm. This went on for hours.

I kept looking out the window, wondering when the rain would let up. Fifteen minutes went by. Then 30. Soon it was an hour, and the rain was coming down in sheets.

“Streets are going to start flooding,” I thought to myself.

Did they ever.

Soon the police scanner became alive. Walnut Street was beginning to flood. Check out the street near the Palace. Market Street’s starting to flood.

I grabbed a camera and went out for a firsthand look. I nearly got soaked through just walking to the car, and that was WITH an umbrella. Also, I may need to buy a new pair of shoes.

My first stop was Walnut Street, near the old Harrison Radiator building. Water was still below the curb in most areas, but right at the intersection it was spilling into the parking lot.

While there, I shot some video footage, and as luck would have it, a wide load escort drove by, and the water falling off the payload was amazing. Video of that is online, too.

I watched people on Genesee Street push a car that got flooded out, to safety. Erie Street looked like a river, with water rapidly flowing downhill.

Some drivers took it slow, others went through puddles like they were nothing. Water gushed out from a vent hole in the sidewalk along Main Street.

Back at the office, the police scanner was nonstop talk.

“Market and Vine, the street might be caving in.”

“Close Market Street from Widewaters to downtown.”

A sinkhole off Lincoln. Odors of natural gas. Flooded basements. The police department’s second shift was held over. The fire department was rushing from one call to another.

Davison Road was under three feet of water and people were abandoning their cars.

Firefighters from across Niagara County came to Lockport to help out.

Somehow, everything was addressed. Amazingly, there were no serious injuries.

The cleanup will take weeks. It sounds like Lockport officials will have things well under control.

And it’s a day that we won’t soon forget.