West Seneca, Buffalo taking flood threat seriously

WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – After experiencing a flash flood last month that left a multitude of homes damaged, residents in West Seneca aren’t taking any chances.

This time around, they’re working on early preparations. West Seneca Emergency Manager John Gullo tells News 4 he and his crews will be out all night and through Saturday evening to keep an eye on the water level on Buffalo Creek.

“This is something that tonight you’ll see the lights on, you’ll see the garden hoses run, just in case the sewers start backing up,” Joe Zedick said.

Crews in South Buffalo and West Seneca have coordinated their preparation and protection efforts to keep Cazenovia and Buffalo creeks free-flowing in the hopes of preventing the kinds of ice jams that caused historic flooding last month.

Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak said, “We went to make some triangle cuts and some lateral cuts along the Cazenovia, which will relieve some of that stress and allow the water to flow to penetrate that ice on the surface and encourage melting.”

Their strategy has a lot of planning involved, right down to the shape of the cuts in the ice.

“The triangle has to point upstream so that the flat part of the triangle burns through the ice with the water and it will melt it out and will hopefully create an area for the water to go instead of raising all the ice up,” Gullo explained.

Thursday night, residents in West Seneca were checking generators and reinforcing doorways and windows with sandbags provided by the town. The entire supply – two truckloads – has been used up.

Gullo said, “If you don’t have sandbags, do you have a sandbox for the kids? Take a bag, fill it up, now you have your own sandbags.”

The creeks are expected to reach their highest levels early Friday morning.

“Forecasters have predicted the cresting around 6 a.m. tomorrow morning,” Stepniak said. “So this is an overnight event and we just want to make sure everyone follows precautions and stays away from areas that have high water in them.”

Gullo added, “We’ll be out there monitoring and we have partners with the City of Buffalo and Cheektowaga. Everybody watches for each other.”

Should it become necessary, Gullo says the emergency operations center will be open. If residents do have an emergency, they should call the West Seneca Police.

As for Buffalo, Stepniak says crews will be watching all night and will close roadways as needed.

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