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Flooding: South Buffalo needs an AMPHIBEX!

Author: Joe Zee

I have spent the last 7 years writing e-mails to the Buffalo News, TV stations, Senators, Councilman, Army Corp, and many others. I have tried very hard to have just one person see the gravity of a problem that the residents of South Buffalo by Seneca Street down to Southside have had to deal with almost every year during winter.

For some reason, no one wants to address or try to initiate something to lessen the flooding in this area. 50 years of flooded basements and now, this year, flooded streets with no hope and no discussion. Every year the flood waters rise and no one steps to the plate to make a difference. The flooding in the South Buffalo area where I live covers all the side streets off of Seneca Street by Elk Street to Cazenovia Street, and then the side streets west of Seneca Street to Cazenovia Creek, the park; North and South Legion which runs parallel to Cazenovia, down to Bailey/Elk.

Every winter people get nervous. If I go back 50 years, there have been so many different mayors and councilmen, and people at the Corps of Engineers, yet no one has made an attempt to do something.

In the last 25 years, I remember TWO town hall meetings at Southside School, and from that… still nothing. It seems that no one here locally even tried to reach out, study it, research it, or talk with people in other states that may have similar troubles.

Two weeks ago when the area flooded bad, there was no preparation, there were no pieces of equipment on the bridges to TRY to break up ice. The City’s idea of being ready is to warn residents that we’re going to flood, and that WE the people should be ready. The City affirms that they can’t do anything. We have nothing we can use except the Cotter (fireboat) which CANNOT help us where we live. The new fad is divers with chain saws cutting rectangles in the ice. Embarrassing. Some person, if not many, believes this is the best way to combat a flood and a ice jam! A person with any brains can look at a map and see how far the Buffalo River and Cazenovia Creek run. You figure the tons and tons of ice and water coming from as far as the Boston Hills and Concord. We should feel safe that the cut out rectangles are going to save us?

In 1999 we flooded so bad we had ice chunks on the street. People lost furnaces, possessions, water tanks, even electrical service. That’s ONE year. Two weeks ago people lost the same because from 1999 to 2018, nothing has been done! Two weeks ago with the flooding we had at least 4 homes that lost their furnace and tanks that I know of on my street. Many more had up to one foot of water. You could hear sump pumps and gas pumps running just to keep the water level at ONE FOOT! The Red Cross even came down the street. It was so bad that the parking lot at Southside School had 1 ½ ft of water in it.

Tuesday, January 23rd, we once again had warm temps and some rain. The Buffalo River this time wasn’t too bad but the Cazenovia Creek was bad. TV crews were once again showing the ice and water and how high it was. People were warned again of the potential for flooding. This time the City of Buffalo put an excavator on the bridge, which was reaching over the railings, hitting and pushing the ice around. Luckily by 5pm, the alert was off but people were still nervous. The same people who had to put in brand new furnaces and water tanks, people who had their gas and electrical shut off, are now wondering is this going to happen again?

When I grew up they would use dynamite to break the ice up at a certain points. There were two amphibian “war” machines that they would have sitting by the lift bridge. They would go into the water/ice to break the ice up and they were able to work their way up towards Seneca and Elk. Forty years ago they would try anything to get the ice moving. Eventually people couldn’t get parts for the machines, and nothing was ever purchased to replace them.

We lack proper equipment to break the ice up. We do NOT DREDGE. The garbage, the sediment, and silt that has built up over the years, has lessened the depth of the waterways, and we need to move the water and the ice. From North and South legion streets we could use cranes to do this at that section. I sent Mickey Kearns a manufacturer of equipment, AMPHIBEX* (lead image) made in Manitoba which breaks ice, and dredges. The equipment is made in Canada and it would be perfect for our area. With access points and getting under bridges, this should be considered.

50 years of nothing… let’s move forward and do something, finally, that helps the residents!

*The AMPHIBEX can be used for numerous purposes, including restoration and cleaning of contaminated rivers, placements of water conduits, pipelines and underwater cables, cleaning waste water treatment basins, ice breaking and flood prevention, vegetation control, and creation of animal habitats.

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