Much of the raw sewage in Niagara Falls is being dumped into the Niagara River without being treated because the Falls’ treatment plant was shut down by Friday’s wild rainstorm, officials disclosed Monday.
Lockport’s sewage treatment plant also was damaged by a heavy flow of stormwater, but it was not completely shut down.
“No waste is being treated more than primary treatment, and most of the waste is overflowing the plant and going into the river,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster.
While Niagara Falls officials were coping with the aftermath of Friday’s downpour of about 4 inches of rain, about 200 Lockport residents were seeking state reimbursement Monday for property damage suffered in a June 28 flash flood. No such reimbursement has been authorized for Niagara Falls, but residents there remained hopeful that they, too, could get some state reimbursement.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected to discuss flood response at a news conference scheduled for this morning in Lockport City Hall.
In Niagara Falls, the storm also knocked out one of the pumps at a pumping station that sends sewage from the Falls’ North End to the treatment plant. That’s the waste that’s receiving only “primary treatment.”
Plant officials anticipate starting to install temporary replacement pumps today.
For roughly 24 hours ending at 8 a.m. Saturday, 4 inches of rain had fallen at the Niagara Falls International Airport, according to unofficial figures provided by the National Weather Service.
Today also is the last day for Lockport residents to go to City Hall to sign up to be considered for state reimbursement for property losses.
Today’s session will start at 10 a.m., an hour earlier than previously announced, and run until 8 p.m.
Jerome M. Nagy, senior community developer for the state’s Homes and Community Renewal agency, said claim adjusters hired by the state from a private firm, Adjusters International, will call applicants in seven to 10 days to set up inspection visits. He said for those deemed eligible, checks may be sent in as soon as six weeks.
“I think people are pleasantly surprised by that. The Governor’s Office is taking this very seriously,” Sam Hoyt, regional director of Empire State Development, said Monday in Lockport.
The response so far is only for those whose property was damaged before July 3, which locally means Lockport, not Niagara Falls.
A few Falls residents drove to Lockport and found that out firsthand, including Rahsheena Jones, who lives above a deli she’s operated for three years on Highland Avenue.
Friday’s storm knocked out her power for 15 hours, ruining the meat and other food in her store’s coolers. Her store now is closed.
Michelle Adams, of Prospect Street, Lockport, was pleased with the process. “It’s better than not having anyone come out and look at your damage,” she said.
Even though no disaster aid has been allocated to Niagara Falls, city residents should document their damages and the cost of repairs in case aid becomes available, Dyster said.
Saturday, Dyster declared a limited state of emergency in the city, including a driving advisory.
Dyster offered the following directions and advice for residents:
• Residents should put any brush to the curb as soon as possible and not wait until regular garbage pickup, as Modern Disposal has agreed to provide additional pickup services. Brush should be bundled into sections of 3 feet or less in order for Modern to pick it up.
• Residents who have flooded basements and who also have neighbors on the same street with flooded basements should call the city or the Water Board. If neighboring basements are dry, indicative of an isolated issue, residents should call a plumber.
• Appliances destroyed by the storm should be taken to the city facility at 1785 New Road.
• The city wants anyone who can identify hanging branches that threaten power or cable lines or personal safety to report them by calling 286-4711.
Late Monday afternoon, Dyster issued an emergency order that will allow the Department of Public Works to hire contractors to help cut and remove damaged trees that pose a threat to public safety. Contractors are expected to begin that work this morning.