CLARENCE , N.Y. – George Horan didn't leave his house on Christmas Eve, but it's not because he didn't want to.
It's because he couldn't.
Knee-deep flood waters engulfed his home in North Clarence starting early Tuesday morning, the result of a messy Tonawanda Creek overflow caused by relentless rain and snow totals in Western New York. Horan's mailbox was halfway underwater. A fire hydrant near his home was only visible from the very top, the rest covered by a mixture of snow and ice. His car was safe – as was his basement and home – but he figured it'd be best to spend the holiday inside.
"I'm gonna wait," Horan said. "I'm not going out tomorrow."
The area where Horan lives, just near the intersection of Brauer and Tonawanda Creek roads, provided one of the more dramatic flood scenes on Tuesday. Horan's next-door neighbor, Chris Kausner, took his family to his parents' home on Monday evening in preparation but returned on Tuesday to check for flood damage. Luckily, his mid-sized vehicle and four-wheel drive helped him pull into his driveway, but it wasn't easy. As he drove toward his home, water covered much of his front bumper.
"This wouldn't be a great day to have a little Sedan," Kausner said. "That's for sure."
Kausner only spent a few minutes inside his home. After inspecting the floods, he found that his house had avoided much of the damage, which made him comfortable enough to return to his parents' home for Christmas Eve.
"I'm going to go hang out with the rest of my family, somewhere a little higher and dryer," Kausner said.
Other neighbors plodded through the water in their boots, gawking at how strange it seemed that their rural road had begun to look like a river. They also watched as car after car attempted to cross the flood-covered road. Trucks and large vehicles seemed to be able to pass through the flood waters on Tonawanda Creek Road -- as well as other hard-hit spots like the northern portion of Goodrich Road – but the water forced a few smaller cars to turn around. Dan Chapman, the owner of "Dan the Diesel," spent his day fishing stalled cars out of the water with his truck.
"If you're in your truck and you want to go slow, do it. That's the trick, go slow, don't splash up the water," Chapman said. "You just have to use common sense."
Clarence emergency management officials said conditions had improved by Tuesday evening— and that the worst of the situation may be over. Some roads remained closed, however, and portions of Goodrich Road were still difficult for cars to pass. Of course, earlier in the day, a mailman navigated through the messy flood waters on Goodrich, proof that the United States Postal Service truly does work through rain or shine.
But if you didn't need to be on these roads on Tuesday, it was best to stay off. That was Horan's philosophy, even though this is hardly the first time he's seen flooding around his home. For decades, Horan has dealt with messy waters, even using a canoe in his younger days when the floods reached peak levels. He said these conditions usually happen in the spring, when there's traditionally more rain.
"I'm used to this," Horan said. "This is nothing."