WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Buffalo Creek hit major flood stage around 5 p.m. on Friday, forcing residents in West Seneca to once again flee their homes.
Neighbors on Lexington Green, Brian Lane and Gregory Drive left their homes when Buffalo Creek crested just over 9 feet and water and ice began pouring over the berm. It happened in a matter of minutes.
This is the same scenario that played out last month in their neighborhood, when residents had to be rescued from their homes due to high water levels. Many were understandably upset.
Stephanie Serrano said, “For the second time in six weeks, my house gets flooded and completely ruined. I want them to get here faster. It shouldn’t take a half an hour to get a pumper truck in the Town of West Seneca.”
“We need help here. I’m distraught. I really… I can’t take any more of this,” said resident Lorrie Gburek. “We want this to stop. Enough already.”
Crews and neighbors have been preparing for this eventuality all week long, handing out sandbags to try to keep waters at bay and cutting holes in the ice on the creek to try and alleviate ice jams. But it appears all of their efforts were not enough to completely stop the flood waters.
West Seneca Emergency Manager John Gullo said, “We were monitoring these creeks for the last 48 hour nonstop.”
But Gullo says a sudden ice jam between South Ogden and Casimer Streets changed everything.
“It happened so quick,” Gullo said.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz added, “This is another example of when Mother Nature wreaks her havoc, sometimes no matter what you do you can’t sotp it.”
Fire companies and town highway crews quickly responded to the flooding area. Fire crews hooked up pumps to remove rising flood waters by pushing it into the sewer and highway crews brought in additional sandbags in the hopes of mitigating some of the potential damage.
West Seneca Supervisor Sheila Meegan says their efforts prevented the water from going into basements and is confident there has not been as much damage as was caused by flash flooding in January.
By 6 p.m., the water level dropped below flood stage in Buffalo Creek to about 5 feet after the ice jam broke apart. Although many of the same streets, in particular Brian Lane and Gregory Drive, were inundated with water, this time emergency management officials say no homeowners’ basements were flooded.
Town officials say it was a great outcome from a potentially dire situation, and they are doing all they can with the resources they have. Now they’re looking to the US Army Corp of Engineers for the next step.
“There are trees in the creeks that have to be removed. The Army Corp needs to step up and look at these items. Maybe continue the berm around so it doesn’t happen again. There are sandbars in there that prevent the water from flowing properly,” Gullo said.
Meegan added, “We need to increase the length of that berm so it doesn’t come through where it ends. We also need to take of the erosion that’s obviously occurred over the years and to reduce the impact on this neighborhood. This is just devastating. These families can’t take this.”
Crews are still working to remove the water from the neighborhood that rushed in when the creek hit its high point. The Red Cross opened a shelter at St. John’s Lutheran Church on Clinton Street for area residents displaced by the flood, but no residents came to the shelter and it was closed by 11 p.m.
Poloncarz says he’s been in contact with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Office, seeking relief for the homeowners.