Massive flood preparations under way

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a continuing stay in Buffalo, is helping Western New Yorkers prepare for the next big challenge.

Cuomo says, “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

The monster lake effect storm that crippled the region with as much as seven feet of snow will be followed by a potentially devastating thaw.

Five thousand people helped during the dig-out.  Now special crews from across the state are arriving for potential flood rescues. There is also a major concern that structures weakened by the heavy snow could collapse and trap people inside.

The governor invited Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz to get the behind the wheel of a giant high axle vehicle designed to navigate through flood waters.

Twenty-nine of those large trucks are now ready for deployment.  Fifty-five boats, 3 helicopters, 425 pumps and generators, and 180,000 sandbags are also on hand should they be needed.

Rescue crews tested out equipment at the staging area where teams from across the state will coordinate their efforts to bail out any potential flood victims.

“It’s a massive ramp-up of resources,” says Erie County Emergency Services Commissioner Dan Neaverth. “We have had nothing but the highest support from the state. They’re pulling out all the stops,” he said.

Western New Yorkers still have vivid memories of families rescued from their homes after ice-jammed creeks overflowed their banks last year.

“We’ll be monitoring 24-7,” said Neaverth, who says he hasn’t gotten much sleep since Monday but is also likely to keep at least one eye open for the next 72 hours.

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