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Crews keeping close eye out for flooding on creeks in Buffalo metro

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Parts of the Buffalo metro area could see minor flooding in the next day or so, with flood warnings taking effect on some area creeks late in the day Thursday. A flood watch has been in effect since Thursday morning at 7 a.m.

By early Thursday morning, a lot of ice had gathered on the Cazenovia Creek by the Stevenson Street bridge, and a lot of people were coming out to watch the flow.

Among those keeping a close eye on the creeks are city engineers and public works officials from Buffalo and West Seneca.

"It's a responsibility I have," said Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak. "I know there's a lot of people who really love to watch it. My thing is just to make sure it's a safety issue, that we're doing everything we possibly can do."

The biggest concern is the potential for a major ice jam, which would block the water from flowing out to the Buffalo River, creating flooding issues along the creeks.

That's a threat people in West Seneca's Lexington Green neighborhood likely won't forget anytime soon. They had to evacuate because of flooding on the Buffalo Creek in February 2014.

Now, the barriers are up along the creek and by Thursday morning, the pumps were ready to go nearby, in case the water rose too much.

A flood warning for the Buffalo Creek is set to take effect Thursday evening.

But, Commissioner Stepniak says he's hopeful we won't see any major flooding issues in the area.

He says the ice on the creeks is slushy, rather than the hard, pack ice that can be especially problematic.

And, he says, the water has been flowing well under the ice, even where it doesn't look like the ice is moving.

At one point, when the ice was seemingly at a standstill by the Stevenson Street bridge Thursday morning, you could see the water still moving rapidly where the ice had cleared up stream in Cazenovia Park.

Stepniak says Cazenovia Park was deliberately designed as a bowl-shape to help it accommodate quite a bit of water before flooding becomes a big problem. He also says the steep slope walls along the Cazenovia Creek as it heads to the river also help mitigate issues.

If flooding issues do arise, crews around here should be ready to react. They run drills and coordinate with different departments, in addition to monitoring the creeks at several point.

"If there is any time we have to react, we're on the spot," Stepniak said.

At the time of this posting, the National Weather Service was forecasting the Cazenovia Creek would crest Thursday evening at 10.26 feet. The creek is at minor flood stage when it reaches the 10 foot mark.

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