CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says evacuation plans were being prepared Sunday and the Red Cross is setting up shelters as rising temperatures melt 7 feet of snow in the Buffalo area, causing a risk of flooding.
“If you live in an area that typically floods or has flooded … prepare to evacuate for a flood situation,” the governor said. “It’s not enough that your house has never been flooded before, right? There’s always a first time. And this may be the first time.”
PHOTOS: Epic Snowfall Pummels Buffalo
The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for early Sunday through Monday afternoon.
Weather Service meteorologist Jon Hitchcock said there might be trouble with drainage as snow and uncollected autumn leaves block catch basins. The threat of rain also heightened fears of roof collapses on already strained structures. At least 30 major collapses have been reported so far.
Hundreds of members of the New York National Guard have been deployed to the region, and there’s a warehouse filled with pumps and other supplies at the ready, CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reported.
“We’re staging the equipment where we need it tonight,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
The weekend offered the region a chance to dig out of from the record levels of deep snow.
With roughly the equivalent of six inches of rain tied up in the snowpack, volunteers moved through the area assisting residents.
Beth Bragg’s home was spared the worst of a lake-effect storm. But she still was out first-thing on Saturday with her shovel — along with hundreds of other volunteers.
“I know that people really need to get shoveled out, especially some of the older folks, so I’m just doing my part to help out,” said the bank manager and “shovel brigade” member.
Buffalo lived up to its nickname, “The City of Good Neighbors,” as the volunteers went to work.
“They’re like angels,” said Kevin Masterson, 61, after a handful of volunteers swarmed in to free his and his brother-in-law’s cars from the drifts. “I was out shoveling and — all of the sudden I had all these people.”
One of the volunteers, Greg Schreiber, said he’d keep going “until the back gives out.”
Special units from the FDNY are also in the area, plus help from some unexpected places.
“All of a sudden we look out the window and there is a van stopped right in front of our house and all of the sudden all these guys start pouring out. And I go ‘Oh my God, they’re coming here,'” said Janice Kij.
Residents said the men were Mennonites or Amish; about 100 showed up, Hsu reported.
“They just started climbing on all the roofs and just starting piling it off and they said ‘That’s what we’re here for,'” Kij said.
Seneca Street in south Buffalo was jammed with dump trucks, military vehicles and front loaders rumbling through the streets as they hauled away the canyon walls of snow.
“It’s just a war zone here,” said Eric Ginsburg, standing outside of his store, Ginzy’s. “All the military here, the police. It’s just crazy. Most snow I’ve ever seen.”
The storm, which began late Monday and finally cleared out of all areas by daybreak Friday, has been blamed for at least a dozen deaths.
Temperatures are expected to be near 60 degrees on Monday.
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