West Seneca prepares for possible flooding

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – West Seneca residents gathered Tuesday night to talk about the plans for possible flooding on Wednesday.

Last month, flash flooding caused by a rapid meltdown created a nightmare for homeowners along Lexington Green and Gregory Drive. Around 70 homes were severely damaged by the ice jam flooding and residents had be to be rescued. Many of those homes aren’t even close to being repaired.

Now a flood watch will take effect in Western New York as the temperatures go up this week and residents could have to go through it all over again.

West Seneca Disaster Coordinator John Gullo said, “Every resident should be prepared at least for the first 72 hours of any events.”

To help prepare, Wednesday morning crews will be cutting relief triangles in the ice on Buffalo Creek and Cazenovia Creek to alleviate some pressure and break up the ice. Highway crews have begun preparing sandbags in case they are needed.

“Absolutely I’m worried about the warmup,” said resident Stephanie Serrano. “We’ve had thaws many of times in past winters, and I’ve lived in Buffalo nearly my whole life, but never with 20 feet of ice still on the side of the creek.”

Beginning Wednesday at the Winchester Community Church, those flood victims can apply for financial flood assistance from the Small Business Administration.

West Seneca Supervisor Sheila Meegan said, “I want them to know that we as a municipality have been there for them from the very beginning and will be there until this whole process has been resolved and this is a long process, recovery of this magnitude. It will take some time. we just ask for your patience, but our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

Tuesday night, faith-based organizations gathered at St. John Lutheran Church to try and form a group to develop a long-term recovery plan. But many at the meeting had a hard time thinking about the long term when they’re facing a possible disaster in the present.

However church officials say forming a group is important so that funds received for recovery can be distributed evenly and fairly based on needs.

“We want to get people from the community on the long-term group so that the community members can help rebuild and help the rest of the community find their new normal,” said Jan Tyson, Disaster Response Coordinator at Presbytery of WNY.

The town is working with the US Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study on whether to increase the length and height of the berm that separates the creek from the Lexington Green neighborhood, but no action will be taken in time for the next thaw.

“It’s a very stressful time. You’re trying to live your normal life and you’re trying to deal with all the insurance claims and the adjustors, and it’s very frustrating. And then you think, it’s going to rain and by 45 degrees again in a couple days. Is it going to happen again? Who knows,” Serrano said.

Meegan says while the town and groups come up with long-term solutions, residents should stay vigilant and keep an eye on their basements.

Gullo suggested, “Make sure that your sump pumps are working, you got a backup sump pump. Find out where it discharges, too. Make sure the lines are clear. Take those priceless heirlooms in the basement, get them elevated.”

If you would like to help, you can donate to the West Seneca Neighbor Relief Fund at the M&T Bank branch in the Southgate Plaza.

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