Few would dispute that this has been one of the worst winters in memory. Exception given to the Blizzard of ’77, of course, which will forever stand on its own.
The bitter weather has affected everyone, but those residents along Buffalo Creek in West Seneca have been especially hard hit. An estimated 70 homes and more than two dozen vehicles suffered damage when an ice jam following a warm-up Jan. 11 sent Buffalo Creek over its banks in the Lexington Green neighborhood off Mineral Road.
There was a repeat to a much lesser degree in February. The overall result was damage estimated to exceed $700,000 to homes and other property in that area.
While a temporary berm is in place to provide some protection from problems during the next thaw, a permanent solution is needed.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is asking the Army Corps of Engineers to develop an ice control plan to ease the flooding West Seneca residents have endured for years. The Corps should comply.
The senator understands that winters are tough in the Buffalo Niagara region, but also that available resources must be used to head off these devastating floods. He would like the Corps of Engineers to work with West Seneca to develop projects that could help limit flooding caused by ice jams in Buffalo Creek.
As Schumer pointed out, the Corps has done this successfully in Cazenovia Creek with steel and concrete pylons. There are other possible remedies, including spring debris and sediment removal and bank stabilization projects.
The senator also urged the Marine Corps to consider permanently stationing an amphibious vehicle in Western New York to help break up the ice. Doing so could offer immediate help by breaking up the ice as this winter winds to a close.
On that same wintry note, Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, announced that the state Department of Transportation will reconstruct the 103-year-old Harlem Road Bridge over Buffalo Creek in a $12 million project that includes design features that will make the bridge more resistant to ice jamming.
Ice jams are an inevitable consequence of a cold winter. But the disastrous flooding that accompanies them won’t be inevitable if the federal government acts now.
This request for assistance should be swiftly approved, with work beginning as soon as possible.