OLCOTT, N.Y. – The National Weather Service warns that a shift in winds could mean more flooding on the shoreline this week, and Niagara County leaders suggest that residents prepare.
Legislator David Godfrey, who is also the chairman of public safety, said Sunday that the shoreline continues to wash away.
“We've suffered great damage in that first storm, but it continues because the high water is not subsiding,” he said, while showing Channel 2 the loss of land in his own backyard.
Literal cracks on the shoreline show where more land will break off next. As further evidence of the erosion, Godfrey also pointed out about 15 feet of an exposed pipe, all of which he said used to be buried.
Ahead of expected wind and rain, he's warning people to stay at least 100 feet inland due to the land's instability; that includes keeping a close eye on children and pets.
Godfrey says boaters should also be forewarned of increased debris, but he also doesn’t want to discourage people from coming out and fishing.
“Certainly come if you can get your boat in, but stay well off the shore. The heavy debris tends to hug the shore a little bit,” he said.
Inland, Godfrey also says residents can call their local fire department for more sandbags. He is especially thankful for emergency responders this spring.
"Day and night, with sandbags, with pumps, with generators, whatever the people need, they're there,” he said.
The lakeshore certainly has the worst of this, but inland communities should be wary, too. Many towns and cities, like Lockport, are saturated with water, and pipes at capacity.
Coolidge Avenue in the City is one of a few streets that has suffered from flooding. At least six homes have had their basements flooded or sewage backups in the plumbing systems.
“[When] the water can't go through the city pipes, that's when it becomes an issue,” said resident Justin Forbes.
Forbes says he and his roommate lost irreplaceable items when their basement bathroom flooded the rest of the basement.
"We lost yearbooks, we lost family mementos. Anything that wasn't glass or didn't have a permeable surface was lost,” he said.
Across the street, another homeowner just spent thousands to replace her sewer line and get new basement pumps.
Coolidge Avenue has a history of flooding because the line that runs under it takes both rain water and sewage.
Common Council President David Wohleben acknowledged the issue by phone on Sunday and said the City is commissioning an engineering project to take a camera down into the pipes and see what needs to be fixed underground.
He says rain has overwhelmed the system in some areas, but it’s little consolation to the homeowners who have been paying the consequences ever since wet weather started dominating this season.
Wohleben wasn't sure when the pipe study would begin, but he said it was going to start soon.
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