A massive sinkhole opened up in the parking lot of an East Aurora cafe Sunday night as heavy rains drenched the region and a culvert that diverts Tannery Brook under Main Street collapsed.
Michael DiJoseph, owner of Mikey Dee's Cafe, a restaurant and catering business at 227 Main St., estimated the hole near his business was 40 by 70 feet wide and 16 feet deep.
"It's right in our parking lot," said DiJoseph, who has not been allowed into his business because the edge of the crater ends just two feet from the building at Main and South Willow Street.
The hole opened up as a series of rain storms soaked the region, causing creeks to swell past flood level. Flooding was reported in Evans, Lackawanna, Fredonia, Attica and East Aurora, making some roads impassable.
Cayuga Creek at Lancaster crested overnight Sunday. Buffalo Creek at Gardenville and Cazenovia Creek at Ebenezer were expected and Cazenovia Creek reached moderate flooding stage Monday morning. Ellicott Creek near Williamsville was expected to crest late Monday night.
Tonawanda Creek was expected to flood in Batavia later Monday and Tonawanda Creek in Rapids was expected to flood late Tuesday night.
"It caved right now," the neighbor told DiJoseph.
The sinkhole first started opening up in March, said DiJoseph, who was in the process of purchasing the property.
"We're closed," he said. "It's not a very good situation. It's indefinite at this point."
All of the utilities to the cafe have been shut off. The parking lot is cordoned off and a section of South Willow Street was closed to traffic.
In the last couple of weeks, the village sent in workers to make a temporary repair to the culvert that was expected to hold until after the winter, said Mayor Allan Kasprzak.
But it apparently failed after more than 2 inches of rain fell in East Aurora Sunday, according to the National Weather Service office in Buffalo.
“We’ve had more rain that you can ever imagine,” Kasprzak said.
An engineer assessed the situation Monday and the Village Board approved repair work Monday night. Kasprzak said a backhoe will clean out debris Tuesday and the hole will be bolstered with concrete. After the broken pipe is replaced, he said, new blacktop will be installed. He said work should be finished by next week.
A section of Girard Avenue in the village, between Whaley Avenue and North Grove Street was flooded Sunday night, with water from the creek running straight through one house. By Monday morning, the flooding had receded and the water level in the brook had dropped, Kasprzak said.
The weather service reported 24-hour rainfall totals for the region Monday morning.
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Among the highest totals included Mayville in Chautauqua County with 3.37 inches of rain as of 7 a.m. Monday.
In Erie County, the most rainfall was in Hamburg with 2.64 inches and East Aurora with 2.35 inches. The airport recorded 1.69 inches.
News Staff Reporter Dale Anderson contributed to this report.