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Area officials worry about continued flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline

Office of Monroe County Executive

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo says she will be pushing for state and federal help to assist homeowners impacted by the recent flooding along the Lake Ontario Shoreline.

On Sunday, Dinolfo toured areas from Hamlin through Webster.

“The devastation is absolutely incredible, from businesses to homeowners, the flooding has done significant damage and this is a situation that is not just a one day event, but certainly will be a multi-day event and actually it will be a yearly event unless the situation is rectified.”

Dinolfo says that photos and video of the damaged caused by the high lake levels will be forwarded to state and federal officials.

“The water levels are so high and the flooding is so drastic that sandbags really are not enough, more action needs to be taken; we need federal and state funding to help rectify this problem and quite frankly, we need to make sure the lake levels are addressed for the future," Dinolfo told WXXI News.

Some local officials have blamed the changes brought about by a new plan to regulate the lake levels in Lake Ontario for contributing to the recent flooding. But officials with the International Joint Commission and the Army Corps of engineers say the main culprit has been the unusually heavy amount of rain in March and April.

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Dinolfo says the county has been providing sandbags and a sandbag-filling machine to towns that need it.

Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich says many residents along the Lake Ontario shore have sustained significant damage to their homes, and parts of their break walls have washed away because of high water levels.

But Reilich says an additional concern is the sanitary sewer system which is beyond capacity right now.

“What we have is water running out of many manholes and we're alternating our pumps so that we can continue to keep the system running and we don't have a total failure which would eliminate the possibility of anyone discharging any water from their home."

Reilich says he saw a manhole cover fluttering up and down because of the flooding. 

He says those manhole covers are being blocked off so there aren't injuries to motorists and pedestrians in the area.

Reilich also told WXXI that if the sewer system goes down, it would not only impact homes on the lakefront, but other systems that feed into it, so residents south of the lake could be affected.

Portions of Edgemere Drive in Greece had been closed Sunday, but reopened on Monday, with police still asking drivers to avoid the area if possible as debris clean-up is still taking place.

Compared to some communities in western Monroe County, like Parma and Greece, Irondequoit has been spared the worst of the flooding conditions seen along the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

Credit Alex Crichton
Flooded front yard of lakeside home in the Summerville neighborhood in Irondequoit

Irondequoit Supervisor Dave Seeley says there are still some properties where the break walls have been breached and beaches are underwater.

Seeley says lake levels continue to rise and he's concerned that conditions will get worse before they get better.                   

"Not just some of this flash flooding or one or two-day events, but you're going to see water just overcoming properties probably for a sustained period of time."

Seeley said he and other town officials are concerned about potential property and infrastructure damage in the Summerville, Sea Breeze, and Irondequoit Bay areas.

He said retaining ponds in Sea Breeze were almost overflowing Monday morning.  To add to the water woes, the National Weather Service issued aflood watch for much of the region for Monday afternoon into the evening, with the possibility of strong thunderstorms later in the day.

Alex Crichton is host of All Things Considered on WXXI-FM 105.9/AM 1370. Alex delivers local news, weather and traffic reports beginning at 4 p.m. each weekday.
Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.
Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.