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Flash flood warning issued in Silver Creek as ice jams Walnut Creek

SILVER CREEK — Route 5, a main artery into Silver Creek, was reopened to traffic at around 11 a.m. Thursday after heavy equipment was used to break up ice jams in Walnut Creek that threatened to cause flooding in the village.

A flash flood warning was issued at 8:11 a.m. Thursday for Silver Creek residents as ice jams began to mount, but no evacuation was ordered.

Meanwhile, just up the road, swift waters swept huge chunks of ice down Silver Creek upstream from where it joins Walnut Creek.

Chautauqua County highway crews used heavy equipment to break up ice at the mouth of Silver Creek, where it empties into Lake Erie. That helped create a swift-moving drain of water into the lake, alleviating pressure upstream.

One county employee told the News the work would solve the instant problem, but with this weekend's flash freeze expected, it could lock all those ice chunks in place and create more flooding hazards later in the spring, or during the next thaw.

As of late morning, no significant flooding was occurring in neighborhoods or yards, however, Public Works crews and fire officials were keeping a close eye on the situation. Fire officials in Silver Creek said engineers from the New York State Department of Transportation checked the integrity of the Route 5 bridge over Walnut Creek. It was later reopened.

There were some reports of ice backing up into the yards of residents near Walnut Creek.

At least one Babcock Avenue resident reported waking up to a flooded basement.

"It's horrible," said Gina Hallmark, a lifelong resident of Silver Creek who has battled flood waters before. "There's nothing I can do."

Hallmark said her sump pump was running through the night. When she checked on the condition of her finished basement this morning, it was covered in water.

"Flooding is not fun," Hallmark said. "I'd rather have the snow than the flooding."

The New York alert emergency system also cautioned residents of nearby Sunset Bay to be aware that evacuations might be necessary today as the result of potential flooding there.

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