Cattaraugus County issues State of Emergency

GOWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Two days after a flood swept through the Village of Gowanda, residents are preparing for round two.

Ahead of Thursday’s storms, Cattaraugus County officials declared a state of emergency and asked residents to not travel unless necessary.

PHOTOS | See images of flooding in the southern tier from earlier this week

Since Tuesday cleanup efforts have been underway to remove the mud, water and debris that flooded into the village. But with more rain, efforts on Wednesday turned to placing sandbags. Inmates from Collins Correctional Facility spent the day filling the bags.

RELATED | See our previous story on residents working to clean up the damage left behind by flooding

At nine months pregnant, Emma Trabert is helping to bring dozens of sandbags to her neighbors.

“I figure I better not load 50 pound bags of sand and put myself into labor,” said Trabert.

She’s sticking to driving the truck and hoping her baby girl doesn’t decide to come Thursday night.

“The doc said any day now. I’m like all right. He said call me if you go into labor,” said Trabert.

Meanwhile, Jessie’s Toy Box is open for business, but owner Dave Gabel is still preparing for the storm.

“I was over tying some bags shut. Every time we got a break I’d throw 20 or 30 in my van and bring them over. I’m packing them up by the door. This as a business is kind of ground zero for where the flood water comes up,” said Gabel.

The toy store was hit hard with $30,000 in damage right after it opened in 2009. Gabel didn’t think celebrating the store’s fifth anniversary would include preparing for yet another flood.

“It’s supposed to be 10 years before this happened. Like ’86, ’98, 2009, so we shouldn’t be due for another five years, but you can’t predict Mother Nature.”

Officials have removed sticks and logs from the water, to minimize as much flooding as possible.

“The debris in the water is cleared out. We feel real confident that we’ve done all that we can,” said Gowanda Mayor Heather McKeever.

And while the rain brings anxiety, residents say it also brings a sense of community.

“It’s amazing to see your neighbors come out and sometimes the aftermath when it’s all cleaned up, it’s very positive things have happened in a negative experience.”

Village officials are reminding people to sign up for Code Red to receive alerts for emergency situations. Residents can do so through the Cattaraugus County website.

News 4′s 4 Warn Weather team is reminding residents not to drive through flooded roadways. Meteorologist Bryan Shaw says it is impossible to tell how deep flooding is on roadways because the road could be washed away. He warns that six inches of water is enough to sweep a person away, and a foot of water is enough to sweep away a vehicle.

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