Portville, NY (WKBW) On Thursday, parts of the Southern Tier found themselves underwater. After the region just north of the Pennsylvania state line received more than three inches of rain overnight, flooding became a huge problem. The Mayor of Olean, Linda Witte, said the Allegany River rose nearly 12 feet in 24 hours, overflowing its banks and dousing local communities with multiple feet of icy water.
On Friday, the outlook is still bleak, as flood watches continue in Cattaraugus County, but conditions are improving as officials say the worst should be over. Portville Town Supervisor Bill Stern said Friday that the flood waters have crested, reaching their maximum height late Thursday, and have now begun to drop.
"This is really the highest I've ever seen the water in the Portville area. And fortunately when the snow came, the cold weather came, it kind of helped us because that saved us from more water," Stern said.
The scene on Thursday was scary. Water flowed across streets, formed lakes in fields, surrounded houses, and stranded some residents. Local volunteer firemen had to rescue multiple people from their homes in boats. Officials called it the worst flood they had seen in over forty years.
But despite being hit hard by the flood, Town Supervisor Stern recognized that it could have been much worse.
"We're lucky it quit raining when it did. Just that all of it did end without any major damage to anyone. And everybody responded in a way you hoped they would and everything turned out for the best," Stern said. There were no major injuries from the flood.
Stern also credited emergency responders and all those who helped the local community deal with the severe flooding.
As of Friday evening many major roads still remained closed in the area, including Route 417 in Portville and Route 305 from Pennsylvania into Portville.
And now as the flood waters subside, local towns must begin the long cleanup process, but Stern expects residents and volunteers to help each other and work together to return their town back to normal.