Ian Murphy woke up between 3 and 3:30 a.m. Friday in his girlfriend's basement on Riverview Place in South Buffalo to an "odd dripping sound." He saw water pouring out of the toilet.
With between 2 and 2 1/2 feet of water in the basement as of mid-morning, Murphy's is one of about 100 South Buffalo basements flooded because of ice jams and high water levels in area creeks.
Streets in South Buffalo were flooded, too. The Stevenson Street and Southside Parkway bridges were closed to traffic for several hours, but were reopening shortly before 2 p.m. The area near Unger Avenue and North Legion Drive was closed because of flooding, according to city officials.
Scott Bush at Stevenson St. Bridge in South Buffalo: "I've never seen Caz Creek this bad." pic.twitter.com/VV8OuiHDX7
— Jane Kwiatkowski (@kwiatkowskiBN) January 12, 2018
Buffalo firefighters went door to door overnight to check on residents and shut off utilities if need be. City firefighters will evaluate homes with flooded basements through the day, Mayor Byron W. Brown said.
"Our first priority is making sure that people are safe," Brown said.
The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning until 3:30 p.m. for east central Erie County, including Cazenovia Creek near Ebenezer and Buffalo Creek near Gardenville.
An ice jam that really slowed the flow of the Buffalo River about 10:30 p.m. Thursday near the South Park lift bridge had partially opened and water resumed flowing, city officials said shortly before 8 a.m. City officials held a news conference on the flooding:
The weather service has also issued a flood warning for Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Allegany counties until 7:45 p.m.
Two Buffalo public schools are closed today due to concerns about flooding. They are School 27, Hillery Park Academy located at 73 Pawnee Parkway and School 93, Southside Elementary School at 430 Southside Parkway. All other Buffalo schools are open.
Murphy, who has the flooded basement on Riverview next to Cazenovia Creek, said he and his girlfriend went to Home Depot when it opened at 6 a.m. to get a pump to try to empty out their basement. The water level hasn't fallen much, but it has stopped rising, he said.
Murphy said he believed basement flooding in the area was a relatively rare occurrence. "I certainly wouldn't have expected it in January," he said.
A combination of ice jams and rising waters are also causing problems outside of Buffalo:
• Cattaraugus Creek at Gowanda, where the flood stage was 9.6 feet and rising toward the 10-foot flood stage. Forecasters expect it will crest at about 10.2 feet this afternoon. Minor flooding is expected to affect the right bank of the creek up to a mile downstream from Gowanda, forecasters said, with waters affecting mainly industrial and commercial areas. The weather service also advised to watch out for "developing problems" along Thatcher Creek in Gowanda and at Sunset Bay.
• Tonawanda Creek at Attica, where the flood stage was 7.8 feet and rising toward the 8-foot flood stage. Forecasters expect the creek will crest close to a half-foot over its banks this morning with minor flooding impacts on Prospect Street, affecting a commercial plaza. The weather service also said flooding on the rodeo grounds and youth athletic field on Exchange Street is possible.
• Oatka Creek in Warsaw, where minor flooding along Old Buffalo Road and in poorly drained areas is expected.
Forecasters also warned other creeks and streams, including Cazenovia Creek, Buffalo Creek and Cayuga Creek, could be affected in central Erie County.