Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state agency officials were in Rochester on Monday to kick off a new commission that will work to toughen the infrastructure along the Lake Ontario shoreline.
The Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative, or REDI, commission is part of the state’s response to the flooding that has hit the south shore of the lake this year, just two years after the last wave of floods that damages homes and other properties.
Cuomo says a number of state agencies will be involved.
“This is going to be an unprecedented action; it’s going to take total partnership, it’s going to take creativity, it’s going to take everyone working together, it’s going to take us pushing the envelope, it’s going to take significant resources,” Cuomo told the gathering at the Joseph A. Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center.
Cuomo pledged up to $300 million in state aid to help with the efforts to harden the shoreline along Lake Ontario. Local governments will match 15% for every dollar the state spends.
“We need to hear from the county executives, the town supervisors, the mayors, tell us what you need before you need it,” said Cuomo. “Don’t call us after the storms starts and say, 'Oh, by the way, I need this.' We can’t even get to you at that point.”
The governor notes that since the previous record flooding of spring 2017, the state has committed more than $100 million to rebuild communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline that were devastated by flooding in 2017, only to again experience record high water levels and flooding in those same communities this year. The approach developed by the REDI task force and any subsequent investments resulting from its recommendations will take into account the new reality facing these communities.
Cuomo doubled down on his recent criticisms for the International Joint Commission -- also known as the IJC -- the organization that helps manage water levels in Lake Ontario for both the U.S. and Canada. In a letter to the IJC on Saturday, Cuomo threatened to sue them. He called IJC’s actions harsh.
“Saying to people who just went through a flood in 2017.. Whoops. We’re going to do it again. That I think is harsh. Not being financially responsible for the damage that they do, that I think is harsh. Not being responsive, and fair to New Yorkers, that I think is harsh.”
Cuomo said the regulations for the IJC were changed in 2014. Cuomo said a plan formed in 1958 was better.