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TONAWANDA CREEK, WELL ABOVE FLOOD STAGE, SLOWLY RECEDING

Tonawanda Creek in northern Erie and southern Niagara counties crested Tuesday afternoon nearly 2 feet above flood stage before beginning to recede slowly in the evening hours.

Parts of several roads in the low-lying rural agricultural areas in Erie and Niagara counties remained closed to traffic late Tuesday, according to officials from the National Weather Service. Receding floodwaters overnight, though, reduced those road closings by daybreak today.

Tonawanda Creek at Rapids in Niagara County crested at 13.8 feet at about 2 p.m. Tuesday before falling slowly, down to 13.08 feet at 4 a.m. today. Officials said the creek was likely to slip below the 12-foot flood stage this afternoon. Feeder streams in northern parts of Clarence and Amherst will also remain high, they said.

In Clarence, Town Disaster Coordinator David Bissonette said Tuesday night that an additional 12 to 18 hours of dry weather would provide time for the creek to recede into its banks. "The overall volume of standing water is reducing itself," Bissonette said. "It's a very positive sign that it's working its way out of the area."

Weather Service meteorologist Bob Hamilton said showers were expected to move into the area later tonight and into Thursday. He said, however, that rainfall totals would not have any significant effect on creek levels.

Hamilton said the high level of Tonawanda Creek was attributed entirely to water volume resulting from the runoff from a melting snowpack.

There were no reports of significant damage to roads or residences from the flooding, according to Bissonette. A few basements might have been flooded, he said, but there were no reports of injuries or evacuations.

Meanwhile, crews in Lackawanna were mopping up flooding at Truman Elementary School on Tuesday. Classes resumed today after crews dried and disinfected flooded areas of the Inner Drive building.

Seven classrooms, the faculty lounge, a restroom, the gymnasium and a hallway were flooded by up to 2 inches of water in some areas, said School Superintendent Paul G. Hashem. A collapsed water or sewer line in the neighborhood and lines that were overwhelmed by melting snow contributed to the problem, Hashem said.

"The storm sewer and the regular sewer just couldn't take everything," he said. "It was coming up the drains in the third-grade wing and the gymnasium."

News Staff Reporter Janice L. Habuda contributed to this report.
e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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