Friday, February 25, 2022

DN Special by Matt Surtel, Margret Lee, Ben Beagle:

Genesee River, currently a raging torrent, at highest level in decades





LETCHWORTH STATE PARK — Extreme weather can provide some extreme sights. As rain and snowmelt continue to swell area streams, the Genesee River was a whitewater torrent Thursday morning at Letchworth State Park.

The usual “whoosh” of the park’s middle falls had become a loud roar, with a column of mist rising high into the sky beyond. The environment? Wet and icy for the few people making their way to the falls through the chilly spray.

The most comparable conditions took place in 1979, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Sandy Dagostino of Buffalo who drove out with her friend Nancy to take photographs. “Especially in the winter. To come here and seeing it, it’s really beautiful.”

The two set up near the Glen Iris at first, before walking carefully down the slippery trail to the falls — almost like walking into a cloud.

The last time water levels were this high in the Genesee River was in June of 1972. Hurricane Agnes swept across the state and the Mount Morris Dam saved the watershed from ruin. The dam came within a few feet of overtopping, meaning that there was about a 200 foot deep lake of water collected behind the dam. Temperatures remained a frigid 20 degrees about 10:45 a.m. Minor flood warnings remained in place Thursday for Oatka and Black Creeks.

Steve Winslow, manager of the Mount Morris Dam, said that the approximate 200 feet lake of water is equal to 302,000-acre feet of water, or around 98 billion gallons of water.

In response to the current period of rain and snowmelt, the dam closed down completely last Friday in preparation for the influx of water. River levels were sitting at about 25 to 30 feet deep on Friday. River levels currently sit impounded at 113 feet deep at the dam.

“It’s like having two Conesus lakes stacked on top of each other,” said Winslow.

In 1944, under the Flood Control Act, the Mount Morris Dam was commissioned. It was built from 1948 to 1954 at the northern end of the Letchworth Gorge.

Winslow explained that the location of the dam was intentional, so that the gorge itself could act as the reservoir impoundment area to collect water.

In the early 1990s and around 2011 and 2017, there were prolonged durations of high water where the river rose to about 180 feet at the dam as well.

“We had a pretty heavy snow pack and then some spring rain piled on top of that and the river got deep quickly,” said Winslow, in regards to the current high waters. “We ended up closing the dam down last Friday completely and that allowed the river to drain more effectively — the river stage still went quite high in areas like Avon and down towards the city, but it didn’t flood.”

The draining of the dam is weather dependent according to Winslow. It could take only a few weeks if dry weather continues to persist or it could all change quite quickly and remain at high levels.

The Genesee River has been a large influence on various aspects of the life that has existed within its watershed for hundreds of years.

In the 1860s, when the city of Rochester was developing, there was concern about the damage that the flooded river could cause.

These concerns led to construction of Mount Morris Dam, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says has prevented more than $3 billion in flood damage since its construction.

Although the Mount Morris Dam was able to hold back billions of gallons of water from flooding areas downstream over the past few days, there were a few areas that met minor flood stage levels. These areas were primarily along tributaries that flow into the Genesee River.

Oatka Creek and Canaseraga Creek, where they both flow into the river experienced minor flood stage levels, along farmland and drainage areas. There was minor flooding in Avon along the Genesee River as well.

“The dam is arguably even more important now than it was when it was initially constructed, and I say that because there’s a lot more infrastructure in the areas downstream than there would have been in the ’40s and ’50s — it’s even more relevant.” said Winslow.

The up-and-down weather is expected to continue for the short tem.

Winter weather advisories will be in place today for much of the GLOW region.

A winter weather advisory is in effect until 4 p.m. today for Genesee, Livingston, Wyoming and Erie counties, according to the NWS.

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SILVER LAKE EXPERIENCE (SLE) - Registration now Open for this August 4-6, 2022's SLE. See: SilverLakeExperience.org

W. PETE MAIRS

W. PETE MAIRS
Walter D. “Pete” Mairs, 81, died peacefully on July 23, 2021. Born in Avon, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 1939, Pete was a longtime resident of Geneva, N.Y., and these past many years in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as his beloved Silver Lake. Pete is survived by his wife, Linda Bergstrom Mairs, a loving and true companion; children, Mimi C. Mairs, Jonathan B. Mairs; sisters, June Huff, Helen Dole; brother, Thomas Mairs; stepchildren, Daniel Brinkworth, Jennie Ramsey; sister-in-law, Anne Bergstrom, eight beautiful grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A service and celebration of life is planned for the fall when all can share the joy of Pete’s life together. Arrangements by Stephenson – Dougherty Funeral Home, Avon, N.Y.

Editor's Note: It was a privilege knowing and working with Pete Mairs during his presidency of the Silver Lake Institute. He was a kind and gentle man, but also firm in his leadership. I served as Treasurer and Chaplain of SLI during those years and I could always depend on Pete's presence in the worship service. He was a man of faith and a gem of a human being. May he rest in God's care.

GERALD C. SAHRLE

GERALD C. SAHRLE
Gerald C. Sahrle, 80, of Perry, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Wayland, N.Y., to the late Charles A. and Helen I. (Blowers) Sahrle. Gerry was a line foreman for 32 1/2 years for NYSE&G, working out of the Perry and Hamburg locations, and was a Town of Perry Councilman. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Constellation Lodge -404 in Perry. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and woodworker. He is survived by his wife, Valary A. (Conley) Sahrle; 1 son, Gerald (Pamela) Sahrle II of Silver Springs; 2 sisters, Millie Edmond of Greece, Bonnie Fink of Winston-Salem, N.C., 3 brothers, Ronald (Linda) Sahrle of Dansville, Robert (Susan) Sahrle of Springwater, Kenneth Sahrle of Dansville; 5 grandchildren, Bradley Musscarella, Stone and Winston Sahrle, Conley and Cooper Gayton; along with many nieces, nephews and friends. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Sahrle, who passed away in 2012. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Gerry will be laid to rest in West Perry Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Perry Center Fire Department, P.O. Box 204, Perry, NY 14530. For more information, please call (585) 237-2626 or to leave a message of condolence, visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 North Main Street, Perry, NY 14530.

Editor's Note: Gerald and Valarie could always be seen in the family pew with Pamela, Stone and Winston at Perry First United Methodist Church and continue to be loved. Gerry will be sorely missed. Both were supporters of the Arts at the Silver Lake Institute and Valarie was active in painting and participating in the Annual Show in August. Valarie's presence was always valued and appreciated.

KATHARINE E. PRACZKAJLO ("Kathy P.")

KATHARINE E. PRACZKAJLO ("Kathy P.")
"Kathy P." passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Editor's Note: "Kathy P." as she was better known to us at Silver Lake was an annual summer visitor for most of the last number of years at the invitation of Silver Laker Julia Hoffner. She stayed at the Hoffner Cottage, and became known as both the fun visitor with the vivacious smile to the neighbors at the intersection of Haven Ave. and the Ames Walkway. Kathy P. and Julie could be seen walking and talking between the cottage and the Hoffner boathouse where they could be close to the water. She was also occasionally seen at the Saturday morning breakfasts at Stoody Hall. Her stay was anywhere between 4 days and a week where she had the opportunity to develop a love for Silver Lake. She was not yet eligible for retirement when late last week she developed "a cold" and had to remain home from her job. She did not update her condition over the weekend so the local police made a wellness visit and found her deceased on Monday. She was one of those many people who found Silver Lake and friendship for brief respites where she also found new strength and energy to return to work. She is being particularly mourned by those in the Haven/Ames neighborhood. She will be memorialized next summer at the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Epworth Hall.

BRENDA J. PADDOCK

BRENDA J. PADDOCK
Brenda Joan Paddock, 82, of Perry, born April 15, 1939, now resides in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brenda met Jesus as her Savior in 1965. She met him in person on Nov. 14, 2021. She had a beautiful homecoming with music, singing and praying, leading her into Glory. Her last words were “I am well, I am well.”

Brenda’s greatest loves were her family and friends. Brenda had five children with her husband Roger: Don and Daelene Paddock of Florida, Jody and Tim Von Sanden of Pavilion, Bradley and Jeanie Paddock of Warsaw, Jennifer and Paul Guy of Massachusetts, and Nathan and Jill Paddock of Perry.

Brenda dearly loved her grandchildren: Jessica Morillo, Nikki and Clint O’Brien, Luke Paddock, Paul Paddock, Ian and Brooklyn Paddock, Joe and Louana Paddock, Burke and Megan Paddock, Aaron Paddock, Ellen Paddock, Andrew Paddock, Rachael Paddock, Abigail Paddock, Erik and Cassandra Von Sanden, Jacquelyn and Michael Jones, Tim Von Sanden, Brandon and Brandee Paddock, Jamey and Laura Paddock, Peter and Kara Guy, Candy and Jay Waitkevich, Marlo and Ryan Bolger and Jenna and Rory Peterson.

Brenda was blessed and loved her great grandchildren: Chloe, Olivia and Nicholas Von Sanden, Joshua and Jaxon Morillo, Jameson and Cassandra O’Brien, Atlas Paddock, Noah and Ezra Jones, Colton, Brantley and Charlotte Guy, Cameron Waitkevich, Amelia Bolger and Brennen Leonard.

Brenda is also survived by her brother and sister in laws; Frank and Emma Paddock, Viva and Jim Phillips-Richardson and Kurt and Lynn Paddock.

Brenda first started working as a secretary at Perry Central School. She then assisted her husband building Paddock’s Breeding Service. Roger and Brenda together built and ran the Sandsabarn teenage nightclub. Brenda was owner and operator of Serendipity Travel. Brenda’s pleasures included playing organ and piano. She played at a number of area churches along with performing for her loved ones. UPDATED -- Brenda also played with conviction at both indoor and outdoor services at the Silver Lake Institute where her grandson, Luke, sang at Epworth Hall on several occasions and was appreciated by all who heard his inspiring voice.

Brenda was preceded in death by her parents Noble and Freda Buckland, her husband Roger and son Bradley.

A Committal service at West Perry Cemetery will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a Celebration of Life at LaGrange Baptist Church at 4 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made in Brenda’s honor to the LaGrange Baptist Church 7092 LaGrange Rd. Perry, NY 14530 or to the First Congregational Church P.O. Box 156 Perry, NY 14530. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 N. Main St., Perry, N.Y. 14530. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com.

AUGUST 4-7, 2022

AUGUST 4-7, 2022
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