Thousands brace for potential floods

Posted at 5:47 AM, Nov 24, 2014

Flood warnings are in effect for areas of western New York in the aftermath of last week's storm that dropped as many as 80 inches of snow in some areas.

Meteorologists say a warning continues for Erie, Wyoming, Genesee, Cattaraugus, and Chautauqua counties until late Monday afternoon.

There's a specific warning for Cazenovia Creek until late Monday night. The creek is expected to crest just above the flood stage of 10 feet as temperatures rise to near 60 degrees.

Specific warnings also are out for Cayuga Creek near Lancaster, Buffalo Creek near Gardenville, and Ellicott Creek near Williamsville.

A high wind warning also goes into effect Monday afternoon for Niagara, Orleans, Erie, Genesee, Chautauqua and Wyoming counties and extending until early Tuesday. Sustained winds of 25 to 35 mph are expected, with gusts up to 60.

Residents near creeks are urged to take precautions to prepare for possible flooding now.

This includes moving items from basements. Residents should be prepared to evacuate if ice jams force water over river banks as moving water is a life-threatening situation.

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Since many storm drains are snow-clogged, many urban areas will likely experience flooding with several feet of water possibly accumulating on several stretches of road. Residential basements will start to flood during this time as well.

In addition, very strong winds are expected to develop Monday and Monday night. These winds could bring down some trees and power lines resulting in scattered power outages. This will cause sump pumps to fail.

A flood warning means that flooding is imminent or has been reported.

Stream rises will be slow and flash flooding is not expected.

Do not drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. The water depth may be too great to allow your car to cross safely. Move to higher ground.

Evacuation plans are being prepared and the Red Cross is setting up shelters. The state has brought in significant resources in the event of flooding.

In case of an evacuation due to flooding, the Red Cross says you should have an emergency preparedness kit ready to go.

In your kit, make sure you have at least a three day supply of food and water, your medications and copies of personal documents, medications, a First Aid kit, cell phone and chargers, and a list of family and emergency contact information.

More than 100 volunteers have been operating shelters across Western new York since the storm began Tuesday. More than 800 people have stayed overnight, nearly 2,200 meals and snacks have been served, 13 comfort kits have been distributed, and 94 health service contact and 109 mental health contacts were made.

The Red Cross is putting additional shelters on standby as officials watch the rising waters of creeks in Western New York.