A view of Buffalo Creek from the backyard of Michelle & John Pikula's Lexington Green home (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

Lexington Green Neighbors Brace for Potential Flooding

Potential ice jams could cause similar floods to 2014

Mike Baggerman
January 12, 2018 - 9:00 pm
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WEST SENECA, N.Y. (WBEN) - Residents in a West Seneca neighborhood are fearful of another flood.

The neighborhood featuring Lexington Green, Gregory Drive, and Brian Lane features about 75 homes. It was devastated by a series of floods in a six-week span beginning in January 2014. The flooding was caused by an ice jam at Buffalo Creek, which runs along all of Lexington Green. 

Among the fearful residents is Michelle Pikula, who lives on Lexington Green.

"The weather is a little different than it was four years ago and the ice jam isn't as high as it was but it's still there," Pikula told WBEN. 

She said her and her husband John battled three feet of water in the basement four years ago. Some video from the 2014 incident showed water blasting through windows, with one homeowners basement ceiling collapsing. 

"Since that flood we've had I've thought about it (happening again) for days," she said. "Now they're broadcasting it on TV. It gets a little overwhelming."

Pikula praised the town for their response to the disaster in 2014, noting the highway department's presence during the disaster. However, she said the town hasn't done anything since the incident went away other than to leave it in the hands of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 

"(The town) claims they can't dig," she said. "They can't dig it out. It's just left to it's own natural devices down there."

Berms are meant to stop the ice from breaching backyards, but provide an eyesore in the Pikula's backyard. Most homes along Lexington Green have the berms. Some homeowners countered the eyesore by purchasing sod to place over the berm, creating what looks like a natural bank. Though, in reality, underneath are bags of concrete.

Pikula said the town told her the berms are useless. Her and another neighbor, Nancy Wiertel, said the berms are deteriorating. Upkeep of the berms was apparently being discussed by members of the West Seneca Town Board. WBEN reached out to Town Supervisor Sheila Meegan, who did not return our call before the end of the business day on Thursday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a study and assessment of the Lexington Green flooding on July 7. However, the federal government documented "a negative federal interest in a flood risk management project at Buffalo Creek, Lexington Green", citing a lack of "sufficient economic benefits to justify proceeding with a cost-shared feasibility study." 

John Gullo, the Emergency Manager for the Town of West Seneca, told WBEN that they've done work in the aftermath of the flooding to help protect people in the neighborhood.

"We did some mitigation work on the storm sewers," Gullo said. "We tried to have people take their sump pumps where they were pumped into the sewer and have it break into two, where they'll pump it onto the grass. Once the storm sewers are surcharged, your sump pump is not going to work. It's just going to burn out."

He said people in the neighborhoods should not have finished basements in that neighborhood because they are on the flood plain. 

On Tuesday, WBEN reported on City of Buffalo engineers pre-emptive work of cutting six-foot triangles into Cazenovia Creek as a preventative measure. The Town of West Seneca has not requested similar work for Buffalo Creek. 

LISTEN: John Gullo, West Seneca Emergency Manager, speaks with WBEN's Mike Baggerman

LEX Green - John Gullo RAW .mp3

"We'll ask them to come into our town to do a couple particular spots," Gullo said. "We did not do that because the underwater rescue team has been busy. They've cut I don't know how many holes in the ice down there. We may need them. We may use them. But I only have one spot that I can do that and I don't know if it's particularly safe yet to send people into the water and do that."

That spot was by the Harlem Road bridge. 

For now, homeowners, knowing their neighborhood may not receive any help on a grand scale, will just have to cross their fingers and hope nothing happens.

Wiertel wasn't worried about a flood happening again.

"If it does it does," she said. "What are you going to do about it? There's really nothing in the basement. You don't just go fixing up your basement and have a man cave down there. You can't."

LISTEN: Michelle Pikula speaks with WBEN's Mike Baggerman about fears of flooding again

LEX Green - Michelle Pikula RAW.mp3

 

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