Gowanda avoids floods amid steady rain, soggy ground

GOWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Gowanda is a village that’s prone to flooding, some of their worst happening in 2009 and again in 2014. Since then, the village has installed a Code Red system to alert residents living along Cattaraugus and other creeks in the event of flooding.

Officials said Thursday they likely won’t need to employ that system any time soon.

That’s because Cattaraugus Creek is expected to crest below what’s known as action stage, which is below minor flooding. That’s also somewhat unexpected news, since minor flooding was initially predicted, before forecasts changed thanks to imminent snow.
But the village should take some credit for that as well. Since their last flood in 2014, the village has been proactive in clearing the tributaries of Cattaraugus Creek, which overflowed quickly that year and caused millions of dollars in damages, said Nick Crassi, the village’s emergency coordinator.
The flood of 2014 severely damaged the Gowanda reservoir, and the village has been in a state of emergency ever since because they’re still cleaning up the mess, and working to divert creeks upstream.
Those tributaries may have appeared small Thursday, as the steady rain fell. But Crassi said their size can be dangerously misleading.
“The small tributaries like Thatcher Brook and Grannis Brook that caused the problem in Gowanda here all these years, it develops a large amount of water in a short period of time,” Crassi said. “Because everything is feeding into a very small stream, you can go from looking very innocent, just a foot deep, to 8 to 10 feet deep and 18 feet wide. So you imagine opening a drain like that into Gowanda and it’s going to fill up quickly.”
Work has been ongoing since 2014 to repair the reservoir. It’s expected to pick back up when the weather warms this spring, and be complete later this fall. In the meantime the village is only using the reservoir in the event of an emergency, Crassi said, adding that Gowanda has plenty of water. Sometimes, too much.

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