Bad Weather Causes Big Problems in the Cattaraugus Creek

August 25, 2011 Updated Aug 25, 2011 at 12:58 PM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

...
August 25, 2011 Updated Aug 25, 2011 at 12:58 PM EDT


Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) - Five New York State Thruway workers were brought to safety by helicopter after heavy rain cause the water to rise to dangerous levels and strand them in the middle of Cattaraugus Creek.

"The water came up so suddenly underneath the bridge they were force onto the island. We flew out there and were able to rescue all five men," Erie County Sheriff's Captain Kevin Caffery said.

The water rose about four feet in just minutes as they worked on a temporary construction road under the bridge. As the panic set in, co-workers tried to help by driving a small bulldozer out to them but the equipment was also overtaken by water. That's when the Erie County Sheriff's Office stepped in.

"We have a new hoist installed. A high speed hoist so it made a big difference in picking them up quickly," Caffery said.

The men were waiting in the water for about a half an hour, watching the water creep closer to them. The helicopter rescue only took about five minutes total.

Channel 7 got first hand video of the rescue but we were also able to acquire helicopter video from the sheriff's office. When they finally reached the last worker, he was ankle deep in water. Authorities said the high tech equipment save their lives.

"They only had a few minutes or they would have been washed away," Caffery said.

Authorities said luckily no one was hurt in the incident but they do say it was a nerve-wracking experience for everyone involved.