CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – Several hours after flash flooding wrecked havoc across Cheektowaga, Cayuga Creek jumped its banks and threatened life and property in two sections of Town.
The first issue with the creek happened around 8:30 p.m. in the area of Rowley Road.
Jim Chojnicki and his wife had to be evacuated when their house was surrounded by water. He says the rising water is something he’s never seen.
“I’ve lived here 16 years, the lady that was just talking to me has been in the area for 50. My neighbor next door has been there 40 something. This is the first time it’s ever flooded,” said Mr. Chojnicki.
That’s the same sentiment of Chief Tony Filipski of the Bellevue Fire Company.
“I’ve lived here 30 years, I’ve seen it at the bridge two or three feet after a snow melt, but like this? Nah,” said Chief Filipski.
Mr. Chojnicki explained what happened around 6 or 7 o’clock.
“It started rising, rising and kept rising,” Mr. Chojnicki said he then went down to the fire hall, “I asked if they had sandbags because I’ve got one little room that the water started coming in…they don’t have sandbags or whatever, so they all came after that. They’ve been more than willing to do anything.”
Chief Filipski said, “We had a fire call maybe an hour or 45 minutes before he called us. We both live down the street, and this wasn’t like this at all.”
When Bellvue firefighters got to the scene, they assisted the couple from the house.
Town of Cheektowaga Emergency Services Manager Earl Loder and Highway Superintendent Mark Wegner worked to bring in a Jersey Barrier from Cheektowaga and sandbags from West Seneca to help keep the water from entering the home.
Mr. Chojnicki echoed a statement that many people across the Town felt throughout the day, “it’s not that deep, but it’s deep enough that as a homeowner you’re worried.”
Just as Cayuga Creek started to recede on Rowley Road, downstream, around Cayuga Creek Road and William Street residents were starting to be impacted after waters flooded William Street.
Doyle Hose firefighters were pressed into service to assist several residents who were being impeded by the rising waters.
One team of firefighters led by retired police detective Mark Jedd made a rescue at a group home on Cayuga Creek Road near the intersection with William Street. Firefighters said five residents, three of whom were confined to bed, were rescued before rising water impacted the home. The residents were later moved to another group home for the night.
Minutes later, another team of firefighters rescued a woman who drove into high waters at the entrance to Williamstowne Apartments. They later attempted to rescue a man who drove past a police checkpoint and stalled out his vehicle. The man was able to make his way to safety before firefighters reached him.
Firefighters returned into service around 12:00 a.m. Friday.