Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

July 2, 2013

Disaster aid pipeline opened

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The state on Tuesday declared Niagara County a disaster area due to flash flooding last week. That opens the doors for the City of Lockport, and possibly private property owners, to recover an estimated $7.2 million in property losses from the federal government.

At a mid-morning press conference at flood-ravaged Widewaters Drive-In restaurant, Lt. Governor Robert Duffy announced Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved addition of Niagara to the list of counties being made eligible for disaster aid in the wake of heavy rains and flooding last week.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., whose office arranged the press briefing, pledged to press the Federal Emergency Management Agency to free up aid to residential and commercial property owners who suffered material losses in the June 28 storm here.

"I'm going to suggest to F.E.M.A. that they get here quickly, assess the damages and get the federal dollars rolling in" to Lockport, Schumer said. Regarding aid for private property owners and F.E.M.A.'s reluctance to view basements as included in primary structures, he added, "We're going to try to get them to be as flexible as possible. ... There's been a positive change (in FEMA's position) since Hurricane Sandy."

About five inches of rain fell over the city in a few hours this past Friday, straining the city's combined sanitary-storm wastewater treatment system beyond capacity. The result was flash flooding of streets, basements and, on Market Street across from the city marina, the landmark Widewaters Drive-In. Lockport firefighters and volunteers from 16 area companies joined forces to pump out more than 600 basements overnight Friday-Saturday.

Officials have advanced a citywide damage estimate of $7.2 million, including $6 million in private property losses and $1.2 million in municipal emergency response costs and public property losses. The estimate will change, and likely increase, as storm damage becomes more apparent, Mayor Michael Tucker said.

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