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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Lockport’s History of Flooding and Efforts to Remove the Water

1/17/2021 (Permalink)

Water damage often is very unexpected. Contact team SERVPRO right away for water removal efforts.

SERVPRO Moves Rapidly to Support Lockport Businesses After Floods and Other Water Intrusions

Lockport enjoys moderate weather for the most part but has still had its share of incredible, and excessive, thunderstorms and floods. One of the first recorded in our area happened in 1853 on Sunday, May 22. Members and guests of the First Free Congregational Church were attending afternoon services in their sanctuary on the northwest corner of Niagara and Church when a violent thunderstorm swept through what was then the village of Lockport. 

The church choir was singing in the loft immediately underneath the steeple with a large, metal lamp hanging above them. A bolt of lightning struck the steeple and traveled into the wire lamp hanger. It continued through the lamp, missing the choir completely, where it struck and killed Church Deacon Luther Crocker, who was accompanying his choir on the bass viola.

Other members of the congregation were injured in the rush to leave the building before the resulting fire from the lightning strike consumed it. A local physician, Dr. Lawrence Bristol, was close to the church when the lightning struck and rushed to assist. Most of the injuries were minor, but one young woman had severe burns on her neck from a gold necklace which partially melted from the sudden heat. 

Fortunately, the majority of the congregation only suffered from shock and Dr. Bristol was able to revive them with the cold rainwater. Despite what was described as a torrential rainstorm and eventual flood, Dr. Bristol helped remove many more members of the congregation and is credited with saving the lives of those who might have walked back into the church or other danger due to shock. 

Early Photographic Records of Lockport Flooding

A photo from about 55 years later shows the effects of another thunderstorm and flood in Lockport. In the background is the rear of the F & M Bank and was probably taken near the intersection of Elm and either Walnut or South streets. F & M was opened in 1906, so the photo had to have been taken after that, but before the Harrison Radiator plant was constructed which covers that area of Elm, Walnut, and South streets. 

Everyone in the photo is standing in ankle-deep water near a horse-drawn wagon. The advertisement on the side of the wagon is for the Lockport Candy Company and Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum. There are more wagons and smaller carriages in the photo, but no automobiles; gas, steam, or electric, likely placing it before WWI. 

By the 1930s, photography was more common, not to mention cheaper, for newspapers and individuals. There are many more photos tied to a flood that struck Lockport on July 28th, 1941. They reflect the changing times, with late-model cars from the 1930s and perhaps 1940 on the flooded streets, and no wagons, carriages, or horses anywhere to be seen. A billboard for the “Giant Super Market” is seen on the Masonic Building, which was listed in the Lockport City Directory only in 1941 and 1942. According to local newspapers, while the flood was especially harsh to area farmers who had been suffering through a minor drought before the thunderstorm. Unfortunately, what was eventually measured to be two inches of rain fell on Lockport starting at about 3:30 p.m. and ended just four hours later.  

Storm Flooding Exceeded Lockport City Council Planning

The City Council was not concerned at first, since they had spent $1 Million in 1939 to enlarge and further upgrade the Lockport sewer system. The rain fell so hard and so fast, however, that the basements in area homes and businesses flooded in only 15 minutes, with the water reaching the first floors soon after that. Near the Big Bridge, at Main and Cottage, the flood formed what was described as a ‘miniature lake’ by the newspapers. One paper (The Lockport Union-Sun and Journal) described it like this: “Soon the water was flowing in the door of the Royal Confectionary store, 1 Buffalo Street, and into other Buffalo Street stores in that vicinity. At the height of the storm, it was several inches deep. The pressure of the water removed manhole covers on Market and Clintons Streets, on West Avenue and in other parts of the city.”

Rural areas flooded, causing problems for farmers as mentioned, but it was lightning, once again, that caused the damage. In Cambria, Middleport, and Newfane, barns were either set on fire, blown apart, or both. In the nearby town of Wheatfield, recently stacked straw caught fire, resulting in a total loss. Shattered and burned trees fell, bringing down both power and phone lines all over. Surprisingly, the flood did not wash away crops, so area farmers still counted it all as a blessing despite the difficulties of losing power and communications. 

SERVPRO Supports Lockport Businesses with Professional Training and Equipment

To remove water from area businesses, SERVPRO personnel train to the industry standards set by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). On-hand classes from the IICRC includes Water Damage Restoration and Applied Structural Drying. 

Once certified, our specialists can return many businesses to their original, clean, dry condition. Team members use a combination of extraction devices to remove water while simultaneously drawing out moisture trapped in carpets, drywall, furniture, machinery, and personal property.  

If the water intrusion was from stormwater, a backed-up sewer line, or a failing septic tank, it is polluted with soil, human waste, and other contaminants. This does not change how SERVPRO specialists remove the water, but before efforts begin, they spray anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agents over standing water and all affected property. We cannot guarantee carpets are safe after this type of flooding, so team members remove and dispose of them as soon as it is safe to do so. 

If you need commercial water removal for your Lockport business, contact SERVPRO of Eastern Niagara County today at (716) 694-7776. We are here to help you reopen to your customers as quickly as possible. 

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