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Rising water forced some people from their homes in Cayuga County Friday.

Emergency responders were inundated with calls as a January thaw and rainfall caused ice jams and flooding throughout Cayuga County. 

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning in the county until roughly 2 a.m. Saturday. Up to an inch of rain had already fallen Friday morning, and significant snow melt was affecting the central and southern parts of the county. 

The weather service said an ice jam along the Seneca River caused flooding from Montezuma to Port Byron and Weedsport, and the inlet to Owasco Lake in Moravia was rapidly rising. A National Weather Service gauge reported the inlet had reached 8.66 feet as of 10:30 a.m.; minor flood stage for the river is at 8.5 feet.

The forecast raised more concerns for responders, as the rain picked up again Friday afternoon and evening. Temperatures were expected to plummet Friday night, turning the precipitation to freezing rain, sleet and snow. A flood watch remains in effect until 7 p.m. Saturday with an additional winter storm warning from 6 p.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Saturday. 

On Friday morning, emergency responders were dispatched to dozens of flooded basements throughout the county. Crews were also called to redirect traffic as streets filled with water.

As of 11 a.m., the eastbound lane of Route 20 in Skaneateles was closed near County Line Road, and Bonta Bridge Road was shut down between Slab City and Jorolemon roads in Weedsport. Route 326 was also closed in both directions between Half Acre Road and Experimental Road in Aurelius, 

Following the second wave of rain Friday afternoon, more roads were closed and sandbags were requested to deal with flooding. At around 4 p.m., there were dispatch reports that Turnpike Road had been "washed out" near Route 34 in Sennett and a portion of Onionville Road was also closed in Sterling. In Mentz, Highway Superintendent David Nielens said workers shut down Heel Path Road between Maiden Lane and Towpath roads, and Sarr Road, King Street and Townline Road were experiencing bad runoff.

Nielens also said the department was called to Port Byron, where the village office building was dealing with major flooding. Dispatch later requested an inflatable boat and "all available manpower" from New Hope, Owasco, Scipio, Locke, Poplar Ridge and Fleming to assist with the flooding in Port Byron. 

At around 4:30 p.m., there was another call for all available manpower — this time in Weedsport. Crews were requested to evacuate Evergreen Heights, an assisted living facility on Oakland Street. 

Earlier this week, Niel Rivenburgh, the acting director of Cayuga County Emergency Services, said there was more concern for major flooding in the Moravia area, which is still recovering from severe flooding in July. The area could see up to four inches of water.

In addition, the weather service warned there were other locations at risk of significant flooding, including Auburn, Owasco, Sennett, Fleming, Locke, Genoa, Ledyard, Union Springs and Niles.

Meanwhile, in Onondaga County, the department of emergency management and department of transportation were keeping an eye on Onondaga and Ley creeks, which could crest Friday night. Officials urged residents to be cautious as the county remained under the same storm warnings as Cayuga County. 

Drivers were advised to "Turn around, don't drown" when encountering flooded roads, as the weather service said most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Homeowners were also encouraged to call 911 if water enters a residence and impacts the power, furnace or water heater.

Staff writer Megan Blarr can be reached at (315) 282-2282 or Follow her on Twitter @CitizenBlarr. 


Crime and Courts Reporter