Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday that buyouts of flood-prone properties in West Seneca were being considered, and the Town Board voted for an assessment of the problem by the Army Corps of Engineers.
But flood-weary residents called for a more immediate plan: the use of dynamite as an antidote to ice jams in Buffalo Creek.
Audrey A. Petri, of Gregory Drive, was the first resident to ask Monday night about using dynamite to break up ice jams at the Harlem Road bridge, to which the town engineer responded: “We are just concerned about downstream impacts.”
“You’ve got to do something about this!” Petri demanded. “Don’t shake your heads; you’ve got to do something.”
Cuomo, who was in the Buffalo area Monday, said he’s going to talk with the State Legislature about a program that would allow the state to buy out homeowners because there are some places that shouldn’t have been developed. Buyouts were done in some downstate communities wiped out by Superstorm Sandy, the governor said.
Last summer, the federal Environmental Protection Agency agreed to relocate five families living along Water Street in Lockport, which was regularly flooded by the chemically contaminated waters of Eighteen Mile Creek. Since flooding in January, officials at all levels of government have been looking for relief for the affected homeowners, some of whom didn’t have flood insurance.
A standing-room-only crowd packed the Town Board meeting Monday night, as town lawmakers voted in favor of requesting an assessment of the problem by the Army Corps of Engineers.
“The Army Corps controls any water of the United States. It’s their responsibility to address any issues in the creek itself,” said Town Engineer Richard B. Henry III. “This whole process is not a quick event,” he cautioned, adding that the flood-control program on Cazenovia Creek took 10 years from the time an assessment was requested until flood-prevention devices actually were installed.
But residents of the Lexington Green neighborhood off Mineral Springs Road, which was devastated by a Jan. 11 flood and incurred comparatively minor flooding last weekend, called for immediate action.
“What are we doing as far as the next time?” David M. Monolopolus asked. “We’ve got to do something with that creek. Now. Today.”
Monolopolus had a copy of a 1979 feasibility study on creek flooding. “We don’t need another study; the answers are right here,” he said.
Town Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan noted the names of several agencies that Monolopolus recited from the study; the Town of West Seneca wasn’t among them. “You have clearly pointed out who is responsible for that creek. It’s not the Town of West Seneca,” she said.
Another Gregory Drive resident, who grew up on Pawnee Parkway in Buffalo, said dynamite regularly was used to break up ice jams on the Buffalo River.
Councilman Eugene P. Hart asked the town engineer to ask the Army Corps about it. “I’d like to know what the actual rules are,” Hart said.