Gowanda given flood update

GOWANDA – The most recent flood washed through the village of Gowanda causing damage – over $600,000 worth.

“We’ve identified a number of sites … it’s roughly about 650 to 700 thousand dollars worth of damage that has taken place within the village,” Village Engineer Mark Burr said at a recent Gowanda Village Board meeting.

Burr explained this estimated damage includes Allen Springs, the reservoir, general cleanup throughout the village and overtime for workers.

These figures will be sent on to New York state while representatives from the New York State Emergency Management Office and Federal Emergency Management Agency have visited to inspect the damage.

Flash flooding tore through parts of Gowanda on May 13 and other parts in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties due to heavy rainfall. According to Burr, the total estimated damage for Cattaraugus County is between $6.5 and $7 million. Burr hopes the village will meet the threshold amount for damage so the village may be reimbursed.

During the public participation portion, resident Dennis Regan voiced his concerns about repeat flooding; he has lived in Gowanda for over two decades and has seen four floods. He commended the village board along with Disaster Coordinator Nick Crassi for all their work during the flood.

“All four of these (floods) took place in identical fashion … and to have it repeat three more times is inexcusable. I’m not an engineer, I’m not a politician; I’m a concerned citizen who would like to know what this village can do once and for all to get that problem corrected,” he said.

The village is currently in the process of conducting a study through the Thatcher Brook Task Force, formed following the flooding in 2009. The group is in the process of working on an agreement which will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate potential problems. The process is slow, however, and a study could take up to five years with infrastructure taking an additional five years, Burr said.

“To build a piece of infrastructure to deal with the issues that we’re dealing with is going to take probably in that 10-year range. Hopefully we can start that clock sooner than later. The Army Corps and the DEC has been very cooperative with us …,” Burr said.

Mayor Heather McKeever does believe preventive measures during the winter months helped. During two ice jams in December and March, respectively, the village was able to get into the village’s creeks to remove debris.

“We were able to clean some debris out and I think it helped prevent it from being that much worse. What we’re trying to do is prove to the DEC that these preventive measures do help,” McKeever said.

Flood damage needs to be reported to Cattaraugus County. McKeever urged all residents to report flood damage, including a cost assessment to the Cattaraugus County Office of Emergency Services. Visit under “News” or call the office at 938-2213 on how to report damage.

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