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Utilities hope to have power back to all today 3,000 were still in the dark Friday

Electrical service to 3,000 customers still without electricity following windstorms earlier in the week was expected to be restored by this morning, utility companies announced Friday.

Friday night, about 900 National Grid customers were still in the dark. Of these, 278 were in Cattaraugus County, 272 in Erie County, 140 in Wyoming County, 120 in Allegany County and 102 in Chautauqua County.

"We have one really small pocket in Orangeville [Wyoming County] . . . and the lines that serve them are way off the road and they have four feet of snow, so it's hard to get out there," said Steve Brady, National Grid spokesman, who noted crews were expected to work through the night.

He said the utility brought in linemen to restore service Thursday and Friday. About 90 crewmen, including contractors from central and eastern New York, helped in the restoration efforts.

Meanwhile, NYSEG officials said about 2,600 customers across the region were still without electricity, including 2,100 scattered across parts of Erie, Wyoming, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. NYSEG expected to have power restored to most areas by early today.

Wind gusts topped out at 67 mph at Dunkirk just before 4 a.m. Thursday and 54 mph at Buffalo Niagara International Airport a few minutes before 5 a.m., according to weather service reports.

The damaging winds and heavy, wet snow, ushered in by a low-pressure system and a cold front passing through the area in the early morning hours Thursday, knocked power out to more than 50,000 homes across the region.

Warmer temperatures early in the week also resulted in ice jams and flooding in several areas. Most of those problems had subsided by Friday evening. However, the National Weather Service was continuing its flood warning for Tonawanda Creek at Rapids until further notice.

"The flood warning is still up for that creek," said Dave Sage, Weather Service meteorologist.

As of 8 p.m. Friday, the creek was at 13.3 feet and rising, which is more than a foot above its 12-foot flood stage.

Forecasters said the creek would continue to rise with a crest of near 14.4 feet this evening.

Minor flooding was reported in the area. Considerable farmland flooding was reported as well as backwater flooding in north Amherst on small waterways including Ransom, Black, Beeman and Mud creeks.

Ellicott Creek also was reported to have been "running high," Sage said, but it was just below flood stage late Friday.

The week's wild weather, which began with temperatures in the 50s earlier in the week, was forecast to settle down over the next few days. Cloudy conditions with temperatures in the low 30s were expected today with nighttime lows about 20 degrees. Sunday will be partly sunny with temperatures in the lower 30s.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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