Move stuff off basement floors, warns City of Ithaca as Fall Creek waters rise

The City of Ithaca warned residents near Fall Creek on Sunday morning to “check basements and consider getting stuff off basement floor,” as water levels rise due to ice in the creek.

Ice jams create flooding risks along Ithaca’s creeks. File photo courtesy of City of Ithaca.

“Fall Creek is rising due to a build-up of ice,” according to an e-mail sent to area residents via Tompkins County’s Swift911 alert system. “The high school parking lot is starting to flood and access to Ithaca Falls is blocked due to high water.”

“Under these conditions, the water table is likely to rise and basements may start to take on water. Under similar conditions in 2004, some people near Fall Creek found that their basements had more water than usual.”

The City of Ithaca has had significant problems with ice jams, especially early in 2016 and early in 2014, with creeks flooding as ice jams built up along bridges in low-lying areas of Fall Creek and Ithaca’s northside.

In 2014, heavy equipment had to be used to break up large chunks of ice that were backing up water in the creeks that run across Ithaca’s Fall Creek and northside neighborhoods. The problem is exacerbated by levels of silt raising creek bottoms, meaning it takes less water for the creeks to reach flood levels. “No dredging to speak of” has occurred since the flooding of two and four years ago, a city official told us last week.

Saturday, Ithaca officials closed the waterfront trail near the municipal golf course “due to flooding following a break-up of an ice jam on Fall Creek.”

Do not attempt to drive into a flooded roadway, and be extremely cautious about driving on roads without obvious surface water. A little bit of water on pavement could turn into black ice.

The Ithaca Fire Department warned area residents last week to check that their sump pumps are working, and replace them (or add one) if necessary.

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