Regional flooding pushes crews from public works, emergency services

Regional flooding pushes crews from public works, emergency services

Cold snap could lead to even more dangerous conditions

  • By DANIELLE GAMBLE and RICK MILLER, Olean Times Herald
  • Updated

Those driving in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties Friday saw the signs of localized flooding — waterlogged lawns of businesses and residences and rushing waterways filled with glacial hunks of ice.

That is, if they could even drive at all without coming upon a tall yellow or orange sign proclaiming “Road Flooded.”

By Friday afternoon, county dispatchers said two water rescue teams had been deployed, at least 30 homes had reported flooded basements and several roads across each county were flooded.

Roads that were closed included:

  • Haskell Road at Creek Road between Westons Mills and Cuba.
  • Route 446 from Kinney Hollow Road to West Shore Road in Cuba.
  • Woodruff Street in Cuba.
  • Water Street (Route 446) in Cuba at Bull Street.
  • Cadiz Road from Route 98 to Coal Chutes Road in Franklinville.
  • Gile Hollow Road in Hinsdale.
  • Elton Road in Farmersville between Older Hill Road and Farmersville Station hamlet.
  • West River Road between Two Mile Road and Olean city limits.
  • Bailey Drive between Route 219 and Parkside Drive in Limestone.
  • Main Street in the town center of Limestone.
  • Irvine Mills road and bridge in Limestone.
  • West State Street in Wellsville from North Highland Avenue to South Brooklyn Avenue.
  • Route 417 near County Road 5c in the town of Genesee.

Dispatchers added there were several more roads that had standing water on them but were passable.

Cattaraugus County Public Works crews cleaned out ice-plugged culverts Thursday night, closed flooded roads during the day Friday and later sanded, salted and plowed county roads that night as the weather turned to freezing rain and then snow.

“A handful of small culverts (around the county) got jammed with ice and the water backed up,” said Public Works engineering director Mark Burr on Friday

Another problem arose from unexpected drainage on County Road 13, he said. That was from a logging operation that changed the drainage pattern. The logger got back into the woods and corrected the problem.

Flooding in Cuba on Friday resulted in problems with discharging water that had not been fully disinfected from the Cuba Waste Water Treatment Facility to the waterway that flows into the city of Olean’s water supply. However, Olean Public Works Director Bob Ring and Robert Thomas, chief operator of the Cuba facility, said steps were immediately taken to bypass normal operations — including a flood gate being installed at the plant — and that treatment at Olean’s facilities would minimize any risk to residents.

Thomas estimated facility operations would be back to normal around 4 a.m. Saturday.

In the city of Olean, Ring said Friday there were only a few isolated cases of plugged catch basins crews had to respond to, with no reports of flooding.

“I sent the crews home and told them to rest up so they’d be ready when the next storm hit,” Ring told the Olean Times Herald early Friday afternoon. “We’re planning for the worst,” he added.

Chris Baker, Cattaraugus County emergency services director, said on Friday afternoon workers were being posted outside to monitor ice and water levels. The county was in communication with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Weather Service all day to track flooding, as well as with all water rescue teams to be on alert through Saturday.

“This is going to be a long night,” he said.

Baker said the highest priority Friday was monitoring the Allegheny River, which had “significant ice jamming” since warm temperatures and rain scattered plates of ice through the waterway. He called the jamming a “contributing factor” to flooding.

The Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service showed the Allegheny River level peaked at 11.9 feet Friday. At 3:30 p.m., the river level at Olean was 10.3 feet.

Minor flooding occurs at 10 feet, with moderate flooding at 15 feet. The river level was expected to dip below 10 feet by Sunday.

Officials were also keeping an eye on Cattaraugus Creek at Gowanda, which was flowing at 10.7 feet and rising Friday morning. Burr said crews were also watching Thatcher Brook, which has posed more of a flooding threat to residential and retail areas in the past.

“The bigger concern is that things will drop from the 50s to freezing early tonight (Friday),” Burr said. “It’ll go from rain to freezing rain to snow. Just before the freezing rain hits, we want to get out and salt and sand roads, then hit them again right after it freezes to help break it up.”