The Dangers of Ice Damming by Dan Bauer from SERVPRO of the Southtowns

We’re all hoping that 2021 turns out better than 2020 did.

So far, though, the jury’s still out. Among other things, the past week saw the arrival of Winter Storm Uri, a major snow and ice storm that affected nearly the entire country in some way.

In Western New York, we were relatively lucky. We didn’t have blackouts, travel issues or food shortages like much of the country did.

Still, we’re dealing with a weather problem that’s uniquely bad this year because of Uri: ice damming. Last week’s cold temperatures and snowfall, combined with this week’s high temperatures, have created the perfect conditions for damage from ice damming to affect homeowners all across the region.

What is ice damming?

Ice damming occurs when ice builds up on the eaves of a sloped roof in such a way that it prevents further snowmelt from draining properly. Usually, this is caused by warm air from the home melting snow while it’s still cold enough to refreeze once it reaches the home’s gutters. If you see a ton of enormous icicles hanging from your roof or gutters, there’s a good chance you’ve got an ice dam in place.

Why is ice damming dangerous?

On one hand, ice damming can be dangerous to your roof. If the buildup of ice and icicles is heavy enough, it can tear off your gutters and loosen your shingles, leading to problems down the road.

On the other hand, even if there’s no roof damage, ice dams can still prevent snowmelt from reaching your gutters and draining properly. If there’s enough water flowing (say, when temperatures rise above freezing like they’re projected to this week), it can actually back up into your house, causing serious damage to your structure and your stuff, as well as promoting the growth of mold.

What should you do about ice dams?

If possible, proactively clear the ice and snow from your roof. If the damming isn’t significant, this can sometimes be accomplished with a roof rake and a little bit of elbow grease. Installing heated cables is a good long-term fix as well.

But say it’s too late, and there’s already water backing up into your house. How should you respond?

First and foremost, you want to stop further damage from occurring by clearing the snow and ice and repairing and roof leak that might have occurred. For best results, call a roofer – they’ll be able to clear the ice dam safely and effectively.

After that, get your insurance carrier involved. The damage may be covered by your homeowner’s policy.

Your insurance carrier will likely want to get a mitigation and restoration company like SERVPRO of The Southtowns involved. We’ll be able to take moisture readings and figure out exactly how wet your structure is, as well as where the moisture is located. If drying is needed, we can kick the process off immediately, and if any demolition is required (say, cutting open drywall to dry out the wall cavity), our reconstruction team can put it back together as well.

Above all, it pays to be proactive. Your best bet is to clear snow and ice before it becomes a problem. A little bit of roof raking now can pay dividends down the road.

HAMBURG, N.Y. – Hilbert College was awarded a $500,000 grant from The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. This transformational grant, which is the largest foundation grant in Hilbert’s history, will be used to create the Franciscan Advocacy & Resource Center at Hilbert.   This new Center will be designed to help students overcome life issues and support and strengthen their ability to transition and thrive in their educational setting and beyond.

“New York’s poorest and most vulnerable communities are facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19. Honoring the legacy of Mother Cabrini, we intend these grants to have a significant impact in ameliorating food insecurity, helping providers as they deliver care and services in this challenging environment, offering mental health services, and sustaining other essential resources. We plan to continue to monitor the crisis, and we will continue to adjust our response as needs arise,” said Msgr. Gregory Mustaciuolo, Chief Executive Officer of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

“This is a very significant day for Hilbert College,” Hilbert President Michael S. Brophy, Ph.D. said. “I am extremely grateful to The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation for this record-setting grant.  The creation of this new Franciscan Advocacy & Resource Center at Hilbert will truly be transformative for the students we serve and the community at large.”

Led by Jeffrey Papia, Vice President of Mission Integration and Campus Ministry, the creation of the Center will centralize five separate intervention strategies to ensure student success. These interventions are:

  • Wellness Center – Physical & Mental Health and Well-Being;
  • SOAR:  Success, Opportunity, Advising and Retention, including shuttle bus service for City of Buffalo students;
  • Campus Ministry Outreach Program:  clothing and food insecurity;
  • Adult Services Initiative:  social services and referrals;
  • Learning Commons:  space for collaborative learning, educational technology and community building.

This grant will also support the creation of a new position to support diversity and inclusion initiatives at Hilbert.  Rooted in Hilbert’s Franciscan mission and values, the creation of this Center on the Hilbert campus and the supporting programs was borne from the College’s founding order, the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph and their continued ministry and outreach to the vulnerable and their involvement in peace and justice issues.

The Mother Cabrini Health Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization with the mission to improve the health and well-being of the vulnerable New Yorkers, bolster the health outcomes of targeted communities, eliminate barriers to care, and bridge gaps in health services. The Foundation – which is named in memory of a tireless advocate for immigrants, children, and the poor – provides flexible support for new and innovative approaches that enhance health and wellness across New York State. For more information, visit

Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With over 800 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship, and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. The Hilbert Blueprint promotes a well-rounded student experience over four years – starting with the Foundations Seminar in the freshman year, followed by Sophomore Service, Junior Symposium, and culminating with the Senior Capstone. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs in criminal justice administration and public administration, including a track in health administration.




The love that a homeless veteran and his cat have for each other has inspired people all over Western New York and now nonprofit cat rescue Ten Lives Club wants to do what they can to help give “A Pet for a Vet.”

“A Pet for a Vet” is a program launched by Ten Lives Club to give back to veterans and help them adopt a pet without having to worry about the adoption fee. Seeing how much Navy veteran Jud and his cat Junior have meant to each other during difficult times is nothing short of amazing and we want to give that same love and companionship to other vets as well,” said Public Relations Manager Kimberly LaRussa.

In addition, Ten Lives Club has started a “I Love My Pets & Vets” T-shirt and hoodie fundraiser to raise funds for Ten Lives Club and homeless veterans. WNY Heroes has also stepped in to help and see what the homeless veterans of the Alatamont House need as well. You can purchase your “I Love My Pets & Vets” apparel here:

Facebook post of the “A Pet for a Vet” program here:

Video of Jud  and Junior’s story:

Original story here:

Homeless veteran desperately tries to help homeless cat, one special rescue steps in

This is the most heartwarming story you’ll read all day. A homeless Navy veteran named Jud meets an injured cat outside a veteran’s shelter in Buffalo that he names Junior. Junior was sick and so Jud not knowing what do except try everything he could to help, took Junior to a veterinarian who charged Judd $340 just to see the wound. Then there would be an additional $1,020 charge to treat it. Judd could not afford this kind of care and only wanted to do what was best for Junior. He called around to other rescues to no avail until one call to Ten Lives Club in Blasdell, N.Y. made him believe in the goodness of people again.

Jud brought Junior to the nonprofit cat rescue where Junior’s wound behind his right ear (most likely caused by a cat fight) was clipped and cleaned. Junior was neutered, vaccinated and tested where it was found that he was FIV positive and was started on medication. Junior was deemed healed but Jud and Junior’s story doesn’t end here.

Jud has been approved through HUD (housing) to get an apartment and is anxiously awaiting to move in. He currently lives in a rehabilitation/homeless shelter with 25 other veterans called the Altamont House. Jud will be taking Junior to live with him in his new home as soon as he’s ready and for now Junior is safe at Ten Lives Club where he will receive all of the love and attention that he needs. Jud is also welcome to visit Junior anytime.

Jud was so grateful to TLC that he brought his friends, two Army veterans, from the homeless shelter to volunteer at the cat rescue.

“Though Jud and all were grateful we were there to help, we are grateful to these heroes as well who put their lives on the line to help each of us reading this post with our freedom,” read a Facebook post from TLC.

Ten Lives Club is celebrating its 20th anniversary today! Facebook live:


Hamburg, NY – There is a new business to announce in the Southtowns, Home Décor Consulting LLC. This new local business was established by Vicki Weixlmann. Vicki is a Southtowns native and has extensive and trusted experience in working with small and large businesses in the area. Her new endeavor, Home Décor Consulting is focused on bringing the  “Get the designer look without the designer prices”.

“People love beautifully decorated homes, but many are too busy or don’t have the desire to decorate themselves. That’s where I come in!”

She creates a personal environment to each individual and decorates your home or office at a very reasonable cost; saving you time and the hassle of shopping from place to place for just that special look. Vicki will guide you on a room-by-room design, exclusive to your preferences, so your home tells your story of who you are to everyone who enters your home.

Four services are offered: room design, one day decorating, seasonal decorating, and home styling/staging. Whether it be your home or office that needs a little TLC, the convenience and time saving benefits of her services are second to none.

Contact Vicki at 716-225-2913 or email [email protected] for your free 30 minute consultation. You can also visit her online catalog at

Derby, NY…Harmonia Collaborative Care was awarded two regional grants to expand services.  The BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York Blue Fund and the Garman Family Foundation have provided support for the growth of Harmonia programs in 2021.

The BlueCross BlueShield Blue Fund has recognized the need for expansion of mental health and telemental health services in rural and native communities. The closing of TLC Health Network’s Behavioral Health and Chemical dependency units in Irving, NY has devastated communities in southern Erie, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. Patients are referred to already-overcrowded ECMC and providers north of Buffalo, creating a serious access barrier for low income and rural residents, many of whom have no transportation to services offered an hour from home. COVID-19 has exacerbated this situation hitting rural and marginalized populations hard.

Valerie Nowak, LMHC, MPA, CEO at Harmonia comments, “Through its physical and emotional devastation, COVID spurred a response to community needs, including telehealth.  Harmonia intends to leverage this opportunity to reach areas most in need.”

In fulfillment of the Blue Fund grant, Harmonia Collaborative Care will assess community assets and engagement, identify partners and collaborators, and build a 3-year business plan to bring mental health/telemental health outpatient services for clients ages 13 and up. Harmonia’s objective is to reduce the number of clients needing acute care due to the escalation of their conditions while improving the quality of life for rural and Native American residents.

Megan Brautlacht, LMHC, Harmonia Director of Mental Health Clinics believes, “Increasing access to mental health counseling through a combination of in-person and telemental health services to rural and native populations can have a positive impact on the community. Our objective is to eliminate the barriers of transportation and limited technology to support good mental health.”

As seniors age, there is often an increased need to support independence while ensuring physical and mental wellbeing.  The devastating impact of COVID-19 on seniors in nursing facilities has increased the urgency among family members to keep their seniors independent in their homes.  Harmonia Collaborative Care has received a grant from the Garman Family Foundation administered by the Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo to expand their CarePanion program and create new opportunities for family members and friends to provide paid caregiver assistance.

Harmonia Collaborative Care’s CarePanion program directly supports the mental health and physical wellness of seniors living independently in the community. CarePanions provide non-medical, in-home services to help individuals and their Caregivers keep seniors safe in their homes. The Consumer Driven Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) supports Caregivers providing services to their loved ones in their homes. CDPAP is a New York State Medicaid program that allows chronically ill or physically disabled consumers who need help with everyday activities or skilled nursing to hire their home care assistants.

“Supporting and caring for our seniors and their caregivers is more important now that it has ever been.  We are excited to be able to expand our program and help more seniors and their caregivers keep them independent in their homes and communities,” says Cami Kent, MPA, CarePanion Coordinator.

Harmonia Collaborative Care is a non-profit mental health, senior services and Health Home agency headquartered in Derby, NY with offices in Hamburg, NY.  Harmonia, formerly Community Concern of WNY, celebrates 50 Years of providing services to those in the community in 2021.

For more information, please contact [email protected] or at 716-472-8238.  Visit Harmonia’s website at

February 1, 2021

HAMBURG, NEW YORK – The Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS) is now accepting applications for Scholarships for 2021.  Scholarships are awarded based on general Fair participation and those involved specifically in agricultural related activities. Since its inception in the 1950s, the goal of the scholarship program has been to connect the region’s students with agriculture, business, and volunteerism. Two scholarship categories are available:

The Erie County Fair Scholarships seeks students who are enrolled or enrolling in a college or university. These students must have participated in the Erie County Fair in some capacity in order to be eligible. Participation includes, but is not limited to, employment, exhibition, volunteering, marching band, or other performances.

The Erie County Agricultural Society Scholarship is limited to students who are pursuing an agriculture related career. Students must be enrolled or enrolling in a college or university and must be able to describe how their field of study will help them in their agricultural endeavors. Applicants must show participation in the Erie County Fair or Erie County Agricultural Society sponsored activities.

There are a limited number of scholarships that will be awarded.   Eligible applicants do not have to attend a college in Erie County or be residents of New York State.

The 2021 scholarship applications are available online or at area high schools and colleges. The application postmark deadline is April 2, 2021.

Questions regarding the scholarship program should be directed to the Maria Lucero at 716-649-3900 ext. 6413.

About the Erie County Fair

The Erie County Agricultural Society is a private not-for-profit membership organization. Established in 1819, the Society is the oldest civic organization in Western New York. The mission of the Erie County Agricultural Society (ECAS), sponsors of the Erie County Fair, is to preserve and enhance, by educational endeavors, the agricultural and historical legacy of New York State. The Fair strives to fulfill appropriate aspects of the agricultural, educational, entertainment and recreational needs of Western New York. (

Home fires are, thankfully, trending downwards in the last ten years, but that doesn’t mean they still don’t happen. According to FEMA, there were over 1.3 million fires in 2018 (the last year for which they have data). Past that, the vast majority of fires are not just unintentional, but totally avoidable with a bit of common sense. At SERVPRO of The Southtowns and SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster, we see firsthand the devastation that fires can cause every single day. More often than not, these fires are started by one of five common causes.

What are those causes? And how can you avoid them? Let’s review.

5. Candles

Candles make a house a home, right? Sure – but they can also be a serious fire risk if not properly attended.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, candles are one of the leading causes of home fires, especially during the holiday season. Three out of five of those fires is started when someone simply leaves something flammable too close to the candle.

The bulk of the remaining candle fires are equally avoidable. If you’re going to burn a candle, remember to blow it out when you leave the room or go to bed. Watch your hair and sleeves when you light the candle. Finally, don’t let it burn all the way down – put it out before it gets too close to the holder.

4. Smoking

Smoking cigarettes is on the decline, but unfortunately, smoking materials are the leading cause of fire deaths, according to the NFPA.

Mostly, these fires occur because an individual is smoking indoors and does not put their fire out properly. Many of these individuals are older and may fall asleep while smoking. The situation becomes exponentially worse if they use medical oxygen or have oxygen tanks nearby.

If you do smoke, choose fire-safe cigarettes and make sure they’re stored away from children, along with any lighters or matches. Put your cigarette out in a proper ashtray.

Even e-cigarettes can be dangerous, with some batteries actually overheating and exploding while charging or in use. Do not let your e-cigarette battery charge unattended.

3. Electrical Issues

The phrase “electrical fire” often brings to mind the idea of faulty wiring, poor workmanship or bad maintenance. While it’s true that many electrical fires can be prevented by a qualified electrician, it’s also true that others start simply due to misuse.

You should ensure that all electrical work is performed by a trustworthy and competent electrician. If you have recurring issues with fuses blowing, breakers tripping, dimming lights, sparks from your outlets, or even tingling sensations that occur when you touch appliances, you should absolutely call an electrician as soon as you can.

On the other hand, you should also work to avoid any electrical risks that stem from user error. Often, the biggest risks come from appliances. You should only plug in one heat-producing appliance (e.g. a toaster) into an outlet at a time. For major appliances (like a refrigerator), do not use extension cords or power strips – plug them directly into the wall.

Extension cords in general should be avoided in your home – they’re for temporary, not permanent, use and can become a fire hazard. That goes double if you’re running them under carpets or doorways.

2. Heating Issues

In Western New York, heating your home isn’t a convenience – it’s a necessity for getting through our grueling winters.

That fact doesn’t mean that you can be cavalier about how you produce heat in your house. Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths, according to the NFPA. The bulk of those deaths are preventable.

If you’re using a heating element (e.g. a wood stove, space heater, fireplace or even your furnace), keep anything flammable at least three feet away from the source of the heat. It’s a good idea to keep kids and pets that far away as well.

If you have a fireplace, make sure that you get your chimney inspected and swept on a regular basis. You would not believe how many fires in the Southtowns alone could be prevented by routine chimney maintenance.

Finally, make sure that you turn off any portable heaters before you go to bed. Everyone likes to wake up toasty, but it’s not worth the risk.

1. Cooking

By far, cooking is the leading cause of fires in the US. According to FEMA, 52% of residential fires are caused by cooking accidents. Even in nonresidential buildings, cooking leads the pack, causing 30% of fires in those structures as well.

Thankfully, most cooking fires can be prevented, or at least mitigated, with a bit of caution and common sense. The bulk of kitchen fires start simply because someone walked away from what they were doing – don’t leave your food unattended, and you’re well on your way to safety.

Past that, many fires start because the individual is sleepy or has had a few too many glasses of wine. If it’s late, or you’re not all there, order in – there are tons of locally-owned restaurants that deliver.

Finally, if you have a grease fire, fight your instinct to try to extinguish it with water – that could lead to the fire splattering and becoming exponentially worse. Instead, use a pot lid or baking soda to smother the flames.

Overall, if there’s one important takeaway here, it’s this – don’t be a hero. If a fire gets out of hand, get out and call 911. The brave men and women of our local fire departments are trained to take on serious fires and save lives. They’ll be here to help you if you need them., and so will SERVPRO of The Southtowns and SERVPRO of West Seneca/Lancaster.

January 23, 2021– Buffalo, NY.  UPD University Pediatrics Dental Associates is open for business. Concept Construction Corp. was selected as Construction Manager to oversee the build-out of their newest facility. At 33,000 sq. ft., it is largest pediatric dental center in WNY.  Located at 1091 Main St. Buffalo, the facility has 33 custom chairs, 11 procedural rooms and 6 recovery suites. Medical staff have access to individual offices, locker rooms, showers, a media/conference center and administrative work stations. Featuring the newest in pediatric dental equipment and using the most current advances in medical technology, UPD is now fully operational.

For more information on this project or to find out more about Concept Construction’s diverse portfolio of services please contact Vince Ricotta or visit us at

by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway

HAMBURG, N.Y. — The racing surface is ready. More than 250 stalls have been filled by horses chomping at the bit ready to race. This can only mean the 66-day season at Buffalo Raceway is set to begin with opening night scheduled for Wednesday, January 27 with a 5 p.m. post slated for the 11-event program.

Wednesday’s first card will feature a $3,000 guarantee in the Pick 5 pool thanks to the United States Trotting Association’s Strategic Wagering Program, the Western New York Harness Horsemen’s Association and Buffalo Raceway. The Pick 5 begins in the second race.

With Covid-19 protocols still in place, fans will not be allowed at the facility located at the Erie County Fairgrounds in Hamburg.

Buffalo Raceway Director of Operations Jon Cramer said, “Following 2020 and the way 2021 has started, we can’t wait to get the racing season started. We hope to have spectators sometime during the season but until then, we will put out a good product for the bettors to play along at home.”

Owners who have horses entered will be able watch live at the track but they must call the race office in advance of the race

The race schedule shows action on Wednesday and Saturday evenings beginning at 5 p.m.

With no spectators allowed on site fans can still watch and wager on the races.  A few OTB’s and Simulcast locations are open or place your bets through any of the Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) websites including TVG, NYRAbets and TwinSpires among others. For a full list visit

Starting on April 2, Friday nights will be added to the slate with a start time of 5 p.m. The Saturday programs will then be moving to 6 p.m. There will be three special 7:15 p.m. posts set for Saturday, May 1, Saturday, May 15 and Saturday June 5 to accommodate thoroughbred Triple Crown events.

There are two Sunday afternoon cards on tap, June 20 and June 27 with each having a 12:30 p.m. post. The track will be dark on Friday June 18 and June 25.

The season will conclude on Saturday, July 17.

Buffalo Raceway’s wagering menu for the horse players includes three daily doubles (Races 1-2, 5-6 and the last two on the program), a Pick 5 (races 2-6), a Pick 4 (races 7-10) and a Pick 3 (the last three races) along with win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and superfecta bets

On the track, driver Billy Davis Jr., the 2020 Buffalo Raceway driving champion, is returning to defend his title. Davis Jr. won 71 races last season and collected more than $376,000 in purse earnings in the abbreviated season. He’ll be busy on Wednesday as he is scheduled to drive in all 11 races.

Drivers Jim Morrill Jr. and Kevin Cummings will participate in 10 of the 11 races.

Maria Rice, who captured her first ever training title, will try and make it two straight crowns after notching 39 victories at Buffalo Raceway in 2020, winning more than $242,000 in purses. She’ll try and get an early jump on the competition as Rice will send eight to the gate on opening night.

For more information including the latest news, entries, race replays, results, go to or follow along on Twitter or Facebook.


While COVID-19 dictates waiting in vehicles during medical appointments, extra precaution is needed throughout snowy Western New York months

HAMBURG, NY January 20, 2021 – Many drivers know the deadly consequences that can result from sitting in a car too long while it’s running in an enclosed space, such as a garage. However, now that the snow is flying and snow piles are popping up in parking lots all across Western New York, Southtowns Radiology wants to remind drivers to also be mindful of ensuring that tail pipes are free and clear while waiting in a running car – especially while a loved one is being seen for a medical appointment.

Because of COVID-19, many times loved ones are not able to accompany patients into their appointment, even to wait in the reception area, like they used to. In fact, the majority of hospitals, urgent care centers, and doctor’s offices across Western New York have instituted a no visitor policy to limit personal contact during the pandemic.

“At Southtowns Radiology, we recommend, for safety and social distancing, that only patients come into the building, and that others wait in their vehicles,” said Cathy Fitzgerald, R.N., practice administrator at Southtowns Radiology’s Orchard Park Office. “Be mindful of where you’re parking if you need to stay in the car – please double check that your exhaust is not backed up tight to a snowbank while you wait.”

With the average wait time of 18 minutes, and the average appointment time of 22 minutes for medical appointments throughout the U.S., a loved one could be left waiting in a vehicle for upwards of 40-60 minutes in some cases. Given that January is the coldest month in Western New York, most caregivers will find themselves waiting in a running vehicle at some point over the next few weeks.

“Now is a good time to have your exhaust system checked, to be extra aware of where you park and of how long you are in your car, especially if you are routinely driving a family member, neighbor or friend to and from medical appointments,” added Fitzgerald. “While it’s a small detail, it can have deadly consequences if overlooked. Any reminders we can give to ensure the health and safety of patients – as well as their caregivers – we’ll take it.”

Carbon monoxide poisoning from vehicle exhaust claims approximately 400 lives across the United States each year. Because there is no distinct odor, color or other indicative factors, victims of the poisoning are often unaware. Symptoms to watch for include headache, nausea, disorientation, and dizziness.

Medical practices are encouraged to tell patients when they register to remind those waiting in the vehicle to be safe during the frigid months where we see a lot of snow. Southtowns Radiology has a printable poster, available to any office to print for no cost, on their website at