Heavy rains cause chaos

Heavy rain and rolling thunder wreaked havoc in surrounding areas Tuesday afternoon, causing damage within the village of Fredonia that could have been much worse than it actually was.

Minor flooding occurred on Norton Place during the afternoon after Canadaway Creek began to back up due to blockage underneath the Water Street bridge going over the creek. According to Department of Public Works Supervisor Jack Boland, trees and large limbs flowing down the creek got caught in that area, forcing water to spill over the banks and flow into the basements of about five adjacent homes.

“The fact that we averted a disaster reminiscent of the floods that we’ve had downtown in the past is (due to) the good fortune of having equipment and people available in such a timely manner that they could be on the scene immediately,” Boland summarized. “We just all pitched in and cleaned up.”

He went on to explain the Water Street bridge has a center pier that caught the large debris, causing the damming effect to occur.

Mutual assistance in cutting up the trees and clearing the obstruction came from the town of Pomfret and S. St. George Enterprises Inc., which lent wheeled excavators and manpower. Once the trees were removed, the creek and flooding immediately subsided.

The village’s fire and police departments also responded to the incident, providing street control and helping the DPW in hosing down Norton Place, which was covered in thick, heavy mud and 4 inches of silt.

“This flooding happened quick, but the response was, luckily, just as quick,” Boland said. “If no one had been available at the town of Pomfret, if they had gone home for the day, or if Steve (St. George) didn’t happen to be around and his machine wasn’t nearby, it could have been much worse.”

Fredonia Mayor Stephen Keefe added Forest Place saw a small amount of flooding, as well, but no houses were reported to have been impacted there. He also thanked everyone involved in helping resolve the problem as quickly as they did and averting a “major catastrophe.”

“This is the first time something like this has happened down there since they put in the new bridge a number of years ago,” he said. “I think there needs to be a procedure for cleaning out downed trees out of the creek or cutting it into smaller portions, even though there’s the philosophy that if a tree’s down, you let it flow down the creek and go into Lake Erie.”

Stockton Town Supervisor David Wilson reported flooding on his property in the town Tuesday afternoon.

“There are fire trucks in front of my house,” he said. “It is slowing traffic down a little.”

“The water is right across my driveway. It is kind of crazy. I have no driveway,” Wilson continued. “My house is on a five-mile stretch of island. Water covered 360 degrees around my house. We got hard rain around 2:30 p.m. (Tuesday) and it runs off the hill onto Route 380.”

After living on Route 380 for 26 years, Wilson recalled he had never had this happen to him before.

“I talked to the guys who have been around the fire department for a long time, and they said this has never happened before,” he said.

Stockton Highway Superintendent Aaron Burnett added the pipes were taking all they could take after the flooding swept through Stockton.

“I have never seen it like this. These 20-minute bursts of heavy rain caused flash flooding, and it’s just tearing things up,” he said. “I spoke to Mother Nature and she will give us a break for a little bit. I have run around like crazy and it will take us a couple days to recover.”

The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department reported they were swamped with various flooding reports from all over the county.

Parts of Route 60, Route 83 and Route 380 were shut down Tuesday evening due to the harsh flooding, which poured in from the hills and neighboring creeks.

New York State Police said no accidents were caused due to the flooding.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo announced the severe thunderstorms which hit the area hard would taper off by this afternoon.

“There will be some isolated showers (today) but not as severe as (Tuesday) night,” Meteorologist David Thomas said. “It will be hit and miss which areas get the rain showers.”

These thunderstorms all over Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Erie counties are caused by a “slow-moving upper level disturbance moving across the Great Lakes region,” according to Thomas.

“The Great Lakes became heavy rain makers,” he said.

Thursday and Friday are looking to be sunny and cool.

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