March 23, 1955 Buffalo Evening News Clipping
Floods Force Residents To Flee In Woodlawn, Grand Island, Falls
By Teddy Linenfelser
One of the worst waterfront floods in recent Niagara Frontier history was receding this morning after a night of terror in gale-lashed communities along the lake and the east Niagara River bank.
Scores of persons were evacuated from flooded homes in Woodlawn, the Town of Wheatfield and the Cayuga Island section of Niagara Falls as the strong wind piled up the waters. Grand Island suffered heavy property damage.
High water and ice also damaged resorts along the south shore of Lake Erie between Woodlawn and Dunkirk. Long-time residents said the Niagara River rose to the highest level they ever have seen.
Worse Storm in Years Rake Grand Island
A grotesquely careening ferryboat pitched 4 feet above its water line and jammed violently against Grand Island’s Bedell House attested today to the worst ice jam in the memory of veteran river boatmen.
Deputy sheriffs stood by today at the 75-year-old restaurant at East River and Ferry roads to keep the curious away from the dock. The Orleans, once the pride of the Buffalo/Ft. Erie ferry run, was heaved up by the ice. It knocked out giant pilings and pushed the dock about 20 feet beneath the porch of the house. At the northern end of the dock, the two-deck ferry, tilting at a 20-degree angle, hugged the edge of the building itself.
The force of the impact during the height of Tuesday night’s windstorm smashed about 30 feet of siding along the porch, knocking out windows and smashing the supports beneath the porch.
Water In Basement
There was less-dramatic but equally-costly damage along the length of East River Road from the Buffalo Launch Club on the north to the south end of the road, with nine homes isolated by 2 to 4 feet of water over the road at the extreme southern end.
Harry F. Simpson, manager of the Launch Club, reported 5 feet of water in the basement. He said the damage to the liquor stock may reach more than $1000.
The building itself was not damaged.
Mr. Simpson said the ice, about 8 feet high, may have torn away the facing of the club dock but has not damaged any pilings.
Calls It “Worst Storm”
In front of the club, water 4 to 6 inches deep covers the parking lot for nearly 300 feet behind the building.
Next door to the club, water surrounded the home of Michael Steffan, whose family is in Florida.
“This is the worst storm in my recollection,” declared Clarence (Patty) Fix, owner of the Fix Bros. Towing Co. and Bedell House and the Orleans.
A Grand Island boatman for 38 years, Mr. Fix said he can recall higher water but never a combination of ice and wind with such force. The only comparable storm, he said, was that of 1907, when the ferry, Grand Island, was stuck in the ice packs and lost two propellers.
“I don’t know what will happen when the ice lets go,” mused Mr. Fix. His tiny water-surrounded office is midway between the Bedell House and the Launch Club.
He fears that the ferry might slide over and sink if the ice – down in the river bottom to a depth of about 14 feet at that point – lets go too swiftly.
Water In Kitchen
Most of the newspaper clipping is missing at this point.
We prepared for the storm by tying cables to the boat but we . . . Feet from its mooring onto piles in front of the boat livery. This morning, fter an all-night effort, Mr. Fix’s nephew, Charles, succeeded in pulling it off the piles.
Howard Benns, who operates a tavern north of the Bedell House, said he has water in his kitchen and estimated $2500 damage to his dock. Next door, at George Senn’s livery, there was dock damage and canoes were overturned along the edge of East River Road. Residents reported that the front of Robert Schutt’s boathouse, next door, was pried up.
Power Failures, Too
Farther south, opposite the stranded homes along the end of East River Road, there were two boathouses marooned by a meadow of ice. One house was tilted upward.
Base Line Road was flooded between Huth Road and East River Road.
Owners of boats and boathouses feared extensive damage to docks and craft from the ice floes piled high against the shore. Several power failures occurred as the result of wind-broken wires.
At the height of the storm, about 3:15 o’clock this morning, the Grand Island Fire Company was called to extinguish a fire in an auto on East River Road. Fire company officials said defective wiring was apparently the cause of the blaze, which demolished a 1954 car owned by Roy Staley, East River Road.