Evacuation plans readied as Buffalo flooding looms

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Bad weather & Thanksgiving travel
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Evacuation plans readied as Buffalo flooding looms
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WINDHAM, ME - NOVEMBER 26: Laurie Perham is dressed for the winter in her heavy coat as she cleans the freshly fallen snow from her car after work in Windham in preparation for the ride home to Naples as the snow storm intensifies in Windham areas. (Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Airline passengers at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC, in Virginia, arrive to snow showers on the busiest travel day of the year November 26, 2014. Hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed Wednesday in the US northeast as a winter storm delivered freezing rain and snow ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, one of the year's biggest travel weekends. A wintry mix was falling in Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, according to the National Weather Service, which forecast 'havoc' for travelers along the east coast from the Carolinas up through New England. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

NOOA satellite loop taken on November 26, 2014 of a nor'easter moving up the East Coast of the U.S. Forecasters expect the storm to bring rain and snow to a large swathe of the Eastern Seaboard, disrupting holiday travel on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Airline passengers at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC, in Virginia, arrive to snow showers on the busiest travel day of the year November 26, 2014. Hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed Wednesday in the US northeast as a winter storm delivered freezing rain and snow ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, one of the year's biggest travel weekends. A wintry mix was falling in Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Washington, according to the National Weather Service, which forecast 'havoc' for travelers along the east coast from the Carolinas up through New England. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 21: Roadside Snow view from a car on November 21, 2014 in Buffalo, New York as the death toll attributed to Buffalo snow rises to 13. A brutal blast of Arctic air triggered a lake-effect storm and snow in the states of New York, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick McPartland/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 19: In this handout provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from the GOES-East satellite, infrared image shows icy cold Canadian air settles over the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. bringing snow and bitter cold pictured at 12:30 UTC on November 19, 2014. The deep low pressure system is pushing polar air over the Eastern U.S. is centered over southeastern Canada. The storm has already dumped 5 feet of snow outside Buffalo, New York with more on the way. (Photo by NOAA/NASA GOES Project via Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 22: A high loader works to clear snow along an avenue on November 22, 2014 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Patrick McPartland/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 22: A high loader works to clear snow along an avenue on November 22, 2014 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Patrick McPartland/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BUFFALO SNOW MELT: Officials rush to prevent flooding as temperatures climb. 'READ' more: http://t.co/DIUkXovJSi http://t.co/I52SGwNZt6
As #snow melts, #snowvember damage totals sure to rise http://t.co/qb2mMGMMmg via @BfloBizJimFink http://t.co/TQPo7HhE8J
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Snow drifted above many people's heads in Cheektowaga, New York, a southern suburb of Buffalo. (Anthony Quintano)
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BUFFALO, NY, UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 21: A residents work to remove snow from the roof on November 21, 2014 in Buffalo, New York as the death toll attributed to Buffalo snow rises to 13. A brutal blast of Arctic air triggered a lake-effect storm and snow in the states of New York, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick McPartland/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - First came the big storm, then the big dig. Now comes the big melt.

Residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo should move valuables up from the basement, pack a bag and prepare for the possibility of evacuation as up to 7 feet of melting snow posed the threat of flooding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned Sunday.

"Err on the side of caution," Cuomo said at a news conference in Cheektowaga. "You prepare for the worst and hope for the best, and that's what we're doing."

Across the Buffalo region - where rising temperatures were expected to approach 60 degrees on Monday - people took that advice to heart.

In Hamburg, Pete Yeskoot bought a portable generator to make sure his sump pump will keep working once the roughly 80 inches of snow that fell on his property melts. Possessions are up on blocks in the basement and he has food for several days.

"Behind us is an 18-mile creek so everything in the village will come through us at some point, so we have to get ready for the possibility of flooding," he said. "And given all this snow, we have to expect that this is real."

Buffalo Residents Urged to Prepare for Flooding

Rain fell Sunday, with temperatures rising to 50. It was expected to be even warmer Monday, accompanied by more rain and rising winds, leading to the threat of toppled trees and power outages.

National Guard members spent Sunday clearing storm drains and culverts to facilitate runoff, and shoveling snow off roofs.

The National Weather Service said core samples of the deep snowpack showed it contained as much as 6 inches of water. Forecasters said some stretches of road in urban areas might become submerged under several feet of water if storm drains remained clogged.

The melt could first cause basements to fill up and roads to flood, but another concern was creeks overflowing. In West Seneca, there was already a sewer pump stationed near Michelle Pikula's house along the Buffalo Creek.

"Hopefully the rain won't be here until later and this will be a slow thaw, but flooding is our major, major concern here," she said.

Cuomo said evacuation plans and emergency shelters were being readied in case of flooding Sunday night and Monday. As a backup to Red Cross shelters, Cuomo said the state would have shelters at community colleges and state university campuses.

The state Thruway, which had been closed for 132 miles at the height of the lake-effect storm last week, was entirely open Sunday. All driving bans were lifted except in Lackawanna, where snow-removal crews worked to open up streets that had become parking lots with hundreds of abandoned, buried vehicles.

Most snow-affected school districts remained closed Monday, and at least four called off classes for the entire Thanksgiving week.

See more photos from the big storm:

49 PHOTOS
Upstate New York lake-effect snow 11/21/2014
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Evacuation plans readied as Buffalo flooding looms
Shoveling the roof in Lake View south of #Buffalo #Snovember http://t.co/H5xRwDIY5W
Roof collapses reported in Buffalo after massive storm dumps 7 feet of snow. http://t.co/YR0OkLp2J6 http://t.co/5QqUQevTFQ
Snow-covered Buffalo area faces new risk: flooding http://t.co/NBj5um2TlM http://t.co/8sdGq3fvD4
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 20, 2014: Tami Normile and Richard Brooks attempt to remove some of the five feet of snow from a roof top on November 20, 2014 in the Lakeview neighborhood of Buffalo, New York.The record setting Lake effect snowstorm dumped up to six feet of snow in less than 24 hours closing a one hundred mile section of The New York State Thruway as well as other major roads around Buffalo. Seven deaths have already been attributed to the storm and a second round beginning late Wednesday evening will bring up to three more feet of snow overnight and into Thursday. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Sydney, a six year old Golden retriever, makes her way through five feet of snow from a driveway on November 20, 2014 in the suburb of Lakeview, Buffalo, New York. The record setting Lake effect snowstorm dumped up to six feet of snow in less than 24 hours closing a one hundred mile section of The New York State Thruway as well as other major roads around Buffalo. Seven deaths have already been attributed to the storm and a second round beginning late Wednesday evening will bring up to three more feet of snow overnight and into Thursday. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
Igloos? No. These are homes in Cheektowaga, NY -- outside Buffalo. http://t.co/JISxjcA5gZ
Buffalo, NY was hit with 6-10 feet of snow. That's legit crazy http://t.co/UEXxFAd1gh
Snowed out in Buffalo, the Bills head to Detroit http://t.co/cdg76edkJC http://t.co/54ocRi1Yjn
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 19, 2014: Drew Ahmed makes his way through nearly five feet of snow on November 19, 2014 in the Lakeview neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. The record setting Lake effect snowstorm dumped up to six feet of snow in less than 24 hours closing a one hundred mile section of The New York State Thruway as well as other major roads around Buffalo. Four deaths have already been attributed to the storm and a second round beginning late Wednesday evening will bring up to three more feet of snow overnight. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Norbert Schnorr attempts to remove some of the five feet of snow from a driveway on November 20, 2014 in the suburb of Lakeview, Buffalo, New York. The record setting Lake effect snowstorm dumped up to six feet of snow in less than 24 hours closing a one hundred mile section of The New York State Thruway as well as other major roads around Buffalo. Seven deaths have already been attributed to the storm and a second round beginning late Wednesday evening will bring up to three more feet of snow overnight and into Thursday. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Sydney, a six year old Golden retriever, makes her way through five feet of snow from a driveway on November 20, 2014 in the suburb of Lakeview, Buffalo, New York. The record setting Lake effect snowstorm dumped up to six feet of snow in less than 24 hours closing a one hundred mile section of The New York State Thruway as well as other major roads around Buffalo. Seven deaths have already been attributed to the storm and a second round beginning late Wednesday evening will bring up to three more feet of snow overnight and into Thursday. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 20, 2014: Tami Normile and Richard Brooks attempt to remove some of the five feet of snow from a roof top on November 20, 2014 in the Lakeview neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. The record setting Lake effect snowstorm dumped up to six feet of snow in less than 24 hours closing a one hundred mile section of The New York State Thruway as well as other major roads around Buffalo. Seven deaths have already been attributed to the storm and a second round beginning late Wednesday evening will bring up to three more feet of snow overnight and into Thursday. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 20, 2014: Mike Ostrander tries to remove some of the five feet of snow from his roof on November 20, 2014 in the Lakeview neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. The record setting Lake effect snowstorm dumped up to six feet of snow in less than 24 hours closing a one hundred mile section of The New York State Thruway as well as other major roads around Buffalo. Seven deaths have already been attributed to the storm and a second round beginning late Wednesday evening will bring up to three more feet of snow overnight and into Thursday. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 19, 2014: Drew Ahmed makes his way through nearly five feet of snow on November 19, 2014 in the Lakeview neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. The record setting Lake effect snowstorm dumped up to six feet of snow in less than 24 hours closing a one hundred mile section of The New York State Thruway as well as other major roads around Buffalo. Four deaths have already been attributed to the storm and a second round beginning late Wednesday evening will bring up to three more feet of snow overnight. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 19, 2014: Olivia Ahmed makes her way through nearly five feet of snow on November 19, 2014 in the Lakeview neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. The record setting Lake effect snowstorm dumped up to six feet of snow in less than 24 hours closing a one hundred mile section of The New York State Thruway as well as other major roads around Buffalo. Four deaths have already been attributed to the storm and a second round beginning late Wednesday evening will bring up to three more feet of snow overnight. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NY - NOVEMBER 19, 2014: Greg Mitri shovels his way through nearly five feet of snow on November 19, 2014 in the Lakeview neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. The record setting Lake effect snowstorm dumped up to six feet of snow in less than 24 hours closing a one hundred mile section of The New York State Thruway as well as other major roads around Buffalo. Four deaths have already been attributed to the storm and a second round beginning late Wednesday evening will bring up to three more feet of snow overnight. (Photo by John Normile/Getty Images)
Trucks remain stranded on the Thruway outside Buffalo http://t.co/bkoADs6eVB
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 19: In this handout provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from the GOES-East satellite, infrared image shows icy cold Canadian air settles over the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. bringing snow and bitter cold pictured at 12:30 UTC on November 19, 2014. The deep low pressure system is pushing polar air over the Eastern U.S. is centered over southeastern Canada. The storm has already dumped 5 feet of snow outside Buffalo, New York with more on the way. (Photo by NOAA/NASA GOES Project via Getty Images)
PHOTO: The inside of Ralph Wilson stadium under a thick blanket of snow and blowing drifts. http://t.co/7Hg3gFcOMI
Tractor trailers & cars stranded on I 90 highway. Snowmobiles checking for any remaining drivers. #BuffaloSnow #nywx http://t.co/275EtMUIiZ
Literally the snow is crashing through homes in Buffalo! @10weather @ABC @AriWeather @Ken_Brewer http://t.co/rzUl4GR5Qf
The longest interstate in the United States is at a standstill. Snowmobiles patrolling on i90. #BuffaloSnow #nywx http://t.co/woBTT2RSRK
Buffalo Police cruiser gets stuck at 1200 Clinton and then bursts into flames. Cops unhurt. #WGRZsnow @WGRZ http://t.co/GwPCPEy2nj
WOW! Around 5 feet of snow closing down Interstate 90 near Buffalo, New York. Photo: NY State Police. #Snow #NYwx http://t.co/h5zTAd3MyA
Photo from Caitlin Battaglia who is stuck on the Thruway near Lackawanna tolls. http://t.co/RVcJCi7q1b
Day two on the NYS thruway. #stranded #snowbound http://t.co/vbwPsXFG71
Take a look at what Troopers were up against earlier today on the NYS Thruway. http://t.co/lm8NGOe99y
Uh. Wow. Alden, NY. Posted by Shannon L Roetzer to @Wgrz FB page. #LakeEffect http://t.co/odyCcxFTcL
Recent storm tracks (fresh snowfall) & more cold air (cloud streets) over Great Lakes today via #MODIS #GreatLakes http://t.co/2upmIfoLn5
Heavy snow forecast for areas of the Great Lakes region. GOES East imagery from 9:45 am EST. http://t.co/tTvWqcmpGG http://t.co/HBC4DuYTId
'I've lost my house!': Crazy photos show New York state buried by snow http://t.co/kz4EdILbhs via @mashable http://t.co/ncAyUxhGjc
Kids and dogs enjoy the snow in Orchard Park. http://t.co/3fU4oVPxYH
@HeatherLyWGRZ shoulder deep here lancaster elma border http://t.co/0GBwtC6Xge
How would you like to open your front door and see this? East Lancaster, NY… Photo from Tara Schwab #nywx http://t.co/tzkaBcVNJp
West Seneca, NY is literally snowed in today. http://t.co/aGy9iNWunw #BuffaloSnow http://t.co/Q1lMkskP6N
The #Buffalo, NY area is in the midst of a truly insane lake effect snow storm. http://t.co/aGy9iNWunw #BuffaloSnow http://t.co/Zacgr8mfGV
Snow day #2 tomorrow? http://t.co/LoJzJPCP5V
35 floors up, looking south across lake. Wall of lake effect snow. http://t.co/280RUY8raj
#WGRZsnow http://t.co/Me7Hvv5vTt
#WGRZsnow Here in Cheektowaga right by John F Kennedy High School! http://t.co/qnfZapRhS5
Genuinely concerned about our safety now, can't see anything! http://t.co/3zGLwVHYoy

A snow wall creeps towards Buffalo in this photo posted by WBEN NewsRadio:

Lake effect from above! Thanks to one of our listeners, Brett Kostrzewski for sending this shot from a plane over the lake effect line just south of Buffalo. Gives you an appreciation of sunshine in one spot and blizzard-like conditions in others. Which side of the line are you on?

This is a wall of snow coming off the lake into #Buffalo #Snow #Weather
Snow Day! #lackawanna @wgrz #weather http://t.co/IgcCQAsFFJ
Buried alive!!! ❄️⛄️❄️⛄️❄️⛄️ guess I'll work from home. Gotta love #Buffalosnow #SNovember http://t.co/z0HIMlyNj4
More photos from the core of lake effect snow band south of Buffalo, NY @FoxMariaMolina @foxandfriends http://t.co/eH94h4G1ik
Good morning from Buffalo. That's a 6ft fence under that snow. Been stuck here for 26hrs now and no sign of moving soon. Also, a new snow front come through later... #tourlife #buffalo #snow #hothandroll
That poor women has been stuck in her car for nearly 24 hours and help has just now arrived
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