After tons of melted snow and torrential downpours saturated the area the past few days, it appears Mother Nature will finally give it a bit of a break - for now.
Meteorologist Aaron Reynolds of the National Weather Service at Buffalo said Sunday that bodies of water at or near flooding stage should back off now that the massive storm systems have exited the area.
"A lot of the creeks and rivers will start to really recede," he said. "There's still problems along the Cattaraugus Creek, but a lot of the creeks have peaked and they're going to start receding."
While the threat of flooding is no longer an issue for many places, water woes continue in the village of Fredonia, where residents are still being asked to conserve water after what Mayor Stephen Keefe is referring to as a misuse of the village sewer line.
"Our crews are still out working, trying to find any blockages that might be in the pipes," Keefe said. "I think we will find our biggest problem coming from inflow from a lot of different sources, like water coming off the rooftops and the downspouts going right into our sewer system. It's not legal for people to have their downspouts going into the septic lines. They can have them in the storm sewer line, and the storm water that runs down the street, but the septic line's a whole different line and a lot of people do have their downspouts connected to those. Also, basements are filling up with water, so some sump pumps are pumping water right into our sewer line."
Keefe added the sewer lines have cleanouts along the street with caps on them, and a lot of those caps are missing or broken, causing the water to get into the line.
"So, that would just be a steady pool of water going into those cleanout systems," he said. "I don't think the caps have been maintained. They could've been knocked over from lawnmowers, kicked over by people, and just years of not being maintained."
Keefe said the water advisory will end "as soon as it stops raining," but residents should continue to limit the amount of water going into drains inside their houses in the meantime.
Gowanda Mayor Heather McKeever said she was thankful to village residents and local businesses and operators in pulling together to prevent the possibility of major flooding.
"We really pulled together and we took the fact that we had the warning seriously that this was going to happen," she said. "We had heard the levels were going to be so high, and we were becoming concerned. Therefore, we surveyed the area and we had people from Gernatt's Gravel, Designer Pools ... along with other local municipalities, including Persia and Collins. We put a large excavator down by ... the beginning of our usual problem areas spot."
McKeever said additional excavators and backhoes were placed in key hotspots (especially Thatcher and Grannis brooks) in order to catch any debris, which helped to keep the water level as steady as possible.
"During the 2009 flood, Cattaraugus Creek crested at 13.7 feet. We got up to what I think they predicted, which was 12.1 (this time). The flood plain is 10 feet," she added. "Other than just minor groundwater and the basements, we were able to contain everything and keep our water system in-tact. We had a very close call, that's for sure."
Mayor Nick Piccolo reported a similar situation in Silver Creek, which experienced a "close call" to any serious flooding.
"Our biggest concern was we had a lot of basement floodings and some problems with the sewer not being able to flow with the influx of the water. We had to go out and do a lot of helpful pumping and cleaning up for a lot of our residents," he said. "We were lucky. On Saturday night, the county brought a dredging machine over, just in case. Ever since (the ice jam in the creeks cleared), we've been flowing pretty steady."
Piccolo added Sunset Bay, which was working closely with Silver Creek officials during the downpours, also seemed to escape without any major damage.
"Our biggest concern was Walnut Creek because you just didn't know how much water and ice there was going to be," he said. "I'm just very grateful with the help everyone is willing to provide when there's a possibility of a disaster. The communication I felt was very good. It makes a big difference."
Reynolds said the Dunkirk area will see temperatures take a tumble over the next few days.
"We're looking at snow showers in the area (today), probably see some accumulations up on the hills, one to two inches," he said. "Where there's ponding of water, there will be areas where the water does freeze."
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