After an extended dry spell in Upstate New York, the rain we were wishing for finally delivered. Unfortunately, it was a bit more than most Rochesterians had anticipated as two separate storm systems combined to produce a month’s worth of rain in a single day.
As strong winds took down trees across Western New York, flash floods were reported in a number of counties, including Monroe and Erie.
Syracuse set a new daily rainfall record of 2.36 inches, which was more than the previous six weeks combined. In fact, before the storm, the city had been experiencing its fourth-driest summer in recorded history.
Meanwhile, here in Rochester, we got 3.18 inches of rain on Saturday, just shy of the record set in 1897: 3.26 inches.
In parts of Monroe County, the rain was so heavy that roads flooded and some homeowners had to turn on their basement pumps. Rain filled the streets in Penfield, putting parking lots near the Panorama Plaza underwater.
“We live right up on Penfield road and we noticed when we looked out the window that the creek was overflowing and decided to come down here and we just couldn’t believe what we saw,” said resident Rich Ponticello. “This is the absolute worse I’ve seen in 30 or some years.”
Studies show that weather is a factor in roughly 21% of all motor vehicle crashes in the United States, and flooding is the number one weather hazard in the country. In fact, more deaths occur as a result of flooding than any other weather hazard.
While the National Weather Service reports that it typically takes a hailstone the size of a golf ball to significantly damage a vehicle, flooding can lead to serious accidents and collisions that cause property damage, bodily harm, and sometimes death.
So, what do you need to know to stay safe in the event of a flood? First, it’s essential to know the difference between a flash flood “watch” and a “warning.”
- A flash flood watch is issued when conditions appear favorable for a flash flood. A “watch” is typically issued several hours before the expected flood.
- A flash flood warning is issued when flash flooding is about to happen or is already happening. This marks the time when you should carry out any emergency plans.
While a properly constructed, maintained, and ventilated roof can last 20 years or longer, severe weather like flooding can wreak havoc on a home or commercial property. The impact of flooding over the years is still apparent in some businesses along Lake Ontario. That’s why Congressman Joe Morelle has introduced a new piece of legislation to help lakeside restaurants and businesses take preventative measures to save money and protect their infrastructure in the event of future flooding.
He said in a press conference on July 8, “Now in the wake of the virus, it’s more important than ever that we take proactive steps to prepare for future flooding and to ensure our small businesses can survive any additional economic hardships.”
The Providing Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Enterprises, or PREPARE Act, will provide pre-disaster mitigation loans up to $500,000 to small businesses in order to construct break walls and take other preventative actions. If passed, the loans will be available through the Small Business Administration (SBA).