The cleanup continued Monday after a weekend ice storm in Lockport and flooding in Northern Erie County, but today all eyes shift to the rising water of Tonawanda Creek which could trigger another round of submerged streets, yards and basements.
Tonawanda Creek at Rapids is expected to crest at 15.8 feet early today, which is just short of the 16-foot “major flooding” stage and not far off the creek record of 17 feet, the National Weather Service reported.
As of Monday evening, Tonawanda Creek was at 14.55 feet – and rising.
That could once again swell the surrounding creeks and steams feeding Tonawanda Creek and cause a repeat of Sunday’s flooding, specifically in northern parts of Amherst and Clarence, said meteorologist Jon Hitchcock.
“Just keep an eye on the water levels, because they might come back again” Hitchcock said. “A lot depends on what those feeder streams do. It’s kind of hard to predict.”
People in northern Amherst and Clarence were keeping their fingers crossed that floodwaters weren’t going to spoil their Christmas.
“Anybody below Klein Road, they can have a Merry Christmas,” said Amherst Highway Superintendent Robert Anderson. “People in the northeast area of town, we just have to pay attention to Tonawanda Creek."
The Amherst Highway Department fielded hundreds of calls from residents in flooded neighborhoods over the weekend and sent crews to pump out water and make sure the storm lines were clear of debris, Anderson said.
The problem wasn’t clogged storm lines, but simply too much rain and melting snow, which caused the creeks and ditches to overflow, Anderson said.
“We were just telling the residents this water has to be able to go somewhere, and when the creeks are at flood stage nothing can move,” Anderson said.
Crews were still busy responding to flood calls in neighboring Clarence on Monday, said Highway Superintendent James Dussing.
“I would say that we’re going to be busy all week,” Dussing said. “This is going to go right through the Christmas holiday, and we’re going to see some light at the end of the tunnel on Friday and Saturday.”
In Lockport, meanwhile, the cleanup from the weekend ice storm continued.
Mayor Michael W. Tucker said he believes the city was hit with more damage than it was from the October Surprise storm in 2006.
“This storm was citywide,” Tucker said, noting the 2006 storm hit mostly the southeast part of the city.
Tucker instituted a driving advisory against unnecessary travel at 6 a.m. Sunday, and it remained in effect early Monday afternoon as some streets remained closed to traffic.
The city’s Police Department took nine calls from residents who reported severe flooding at their homes, the mayor said.
Compared with the June rainstorm where there was more flooding, this storm left a large amount of debris in its wake, Tucker said.
“It’s going to be a couple of weeks to get everything cleaned up,” he said.
The recent storm knocked out electrical power for almost 65,000 National Grid and New York State Electric & Gas customers.
A little more than 1,100 in Erie and Niagara counties were still without power Monday evening.
Liz Curtis is just glad power was restored at her Grand Street home in the City of Lockport on Monday. It had been out for more than 24 hours.
The ice storm brought down tree limbs that ripped the electric wires and some of the blue siding from her home at about 1 p.m. Sunday.
No power meant no lights, no cooking and no heat.
She had a pile of limbs at the curb, as did a number of her neighbors.
Curtis was thankful her basement didn’t flood as it did after a serious rainstorm in July, when she had a foot-and-a-half of water.
The electricity at her home came back on at about 2:30 Monday afternoon.
The whole situation, while far from a disaster, was surely inconvenient.
“I’m just glad it’s over and fixed,” Curtis said standing in her front doorway.
• Fredonia Mayor Steve Keefe asked residents to conserve water because of the excess storm water running through the wastewater treatment plant. Keefe said Monday that if residents could reduce the amount of water it has to process, then the wastewater treatment plant could run more effectively. He asked for residents to reduce water use through Monday.
• Route 98 from Law Street to the City of Batavia line was still closed Monday evening, but the water was slowly receding, Genesee County sheriff’s officials said. The state Department of Transportation would decide when to reopen the road, but all other state highways in the area were open, officials said.