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History of Amherst State Park News Archives

Final storm sweep begins

Amherst Bee,   December 6, 2006  by Jessica L. Finch

Heavy rain this past weekend caused flooding at Amherst State Park

on Mill Road. Storm cleanup crews have been working to keep debris

clear from waterways to avoid excessive flooding. Photo by John Rusac

    The lengthy cleanup process from the Oct. 12-13 storm continues and could last a considerable amount of time.

    "We are still dealing with this ... and will be," said Jim Zymanek, director of emergency services for the town.

    DRC Emergency Services, contracted for storm cleanup in Amherst, began the third sweep of the town on Monday, picking up debris from town rights-of-way.

    This includes branches of all sizes, which do not have to be bundled. The final day of the sweep will be Dec. 19.

    "The passes are to collect debris and hangers in trees that are a public safety issue," he said, adding that anyone concerned about branches should call the Town of Amherst Highway Department at 632-7117.

    Zymanek said the town has spent the past two months clearing streets and sidewalks. The next step is to start clearing golf courses, bike paths and other public locations.

    He added that a lot of man hours have been logged in an effort to keep the ditches and waterways clear of debris to reduce the risk of flooding. This past week machinery was used in Ellicott Creek behind town hall to break up a dam.

    Zymanek estimates that as of Dec. 1, 700,000 square yards of debris had been removed, and he estimated the town would reach 1 million. He added that the total for Erie County roads has been estimated at 1.5 million.

    Since trees were cut in the Ransom Oaks area, no other full trees have been removed. All trees in question are being tagged by the crews for review by an arborist. Zymanek said that trees with 50 percent or more of crown damage, split trunks and large branches ripped off are at the top of the list for removal.

    Highway Superintendent Bob Anderson is forming a citizen review committee for dealing with the massive number of damaged trees.

    "(I am) looking for residents with backgrounds as arborists, foresters and landscaping professionals, and residents interested in the revitalization of Amherst's treescape after the October storm as possible members for a new tree consortium that is being formed," he said.

    Interested parties should contact the Highway Department with their information at 631-5990, ext. 57 or send their information to 1042 North Forest Road, Williamsville, N.Y. 14221.

        "Cleanup is really going well. The contractors started their final sweep and have 15 days to go through the entire town," Anderson said. "The contract states they have to go down each street at least three times."

    As work continues on the street, so must paperwork for FEMA. The deadline for municipalities is six months after the storm.

    "Not all the work is eligible for reimbursement. There are strict guidelines, and we have to justify (our request)," Zymanek said. "We try and go after as much as we can for reimbursement, but some costs will be incurred by local government."

    The deadline for residents to apply is Saturday, Dec. 23. For assistance call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

    For information on storm updates visit or call Zymanek's office at 631-7121.

    He said the town, along with surrounding municipalities, will review how the disaster was handled.

    "We'll look at the lessons learned and sit down and talk about the issues. We can always improve," he said.

    In all, Zymanek said everyone worked well together to get to this point of the cleanup process - the contractor, all the highway departments and his assistant, Dominic Creamer, the emergency disaster coordinator for the town. Anderson echoed those statements, recognizing the hard work of all those involved.

A crane was brought in to remove debris from Ellicott Creek at Main

and Mill streets in Williamsville on Tuesday. Tree debris had formed

a dam causing flooding concerns. Photo by John Rusac

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