WXXI AM News

Lake Ontario flood

International Joint Commission

The International Joint Commission, the joint U.S.-Canadian body that helps determine regulatory decisions about the Great Lakes, has a quorum again. That’s something the agency has not had due to vacancies since late last year.

Senator Chuck Schumer says that the U.S. Senate has voted to confirm three new members of the International Joint Commission. That is the joint U.S.- Canadian regulating body that can have some impact on Lake Ontario levels.

Schumer, a New York Democrat and the Senate Minority Leader, says that the Senate has confirmed former Republican Assembly member Jane Corwin, who will be the U.S. chairwoman of the IJC, as well as nominees Robert Sisson and Lance Yohe.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

This remains an anxious time for people who live near the Lake Ontario shoreline. There will be a lot of watchful eyes on water levels in the coming weeks.

While there hasn’t been any widespread flooding yet, like residents saw two years ago, the level of Lake Ontario has been rising, due to a number of factors.

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The threat of high water along the Lake Ontario shoreline is often felt first in low-lying places like Sodus Point.

Village Mayor Dave McDowell says that right now, Sodus Point is about as prepared as it can be.

“We have 40,000 sandbags, give or take, deployed around the low spots of the village, they’re holding; we’ve got National Guard back shoring up a couple of spots on the south side with this heavy south wind, but our streets are all dry, the businesses are all open and thriving,” McDowell said.

NYS Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

New York state officials have been touring the Lake Ontario shoreline this week, surveying the potential for any serious flooding problems that may occur due to high water levels.

The NYS Commissioner of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Patrick Murphy, says that right now, the Lake Ontario level is about 6 to 7 inches below the level in 2017 when there was widespread flooding, but he says the lake level is predicted to rise.

In the meantime, he suggests lakeshore residents make some preparations, including using sandbags where appropriate.

Office of NY Gov. Cuomo

OSWEGO, N.Y. (AP & WXXI News)  New York state says it has deployed more than 800,000 sandbags, hundreds of pumps and 920 feet (280 meters) of temporary dams in eight counties along Lake Ontario in preparation for potential flooding.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that officials are concerned that more rain, or high winds, could cause damage. The Democrat spoke in Oswego after viewing the nearby lakefront from a state police boat.

Office of NY Gov. Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo toured a portion of the Lake Ontario shoreline on Saturday morning, stopping by to check on potential flooding and talk about the situation with local and state officials.

He said that the NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has deployed 70,000 sandbags and two six-inch pumps directly to Monroe County. 

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

Around Sodus Point you can already see the effects of high water levels. Take Arney’s Marina on the bay -- their service dock is underwater, and a pump runs constantly to keep water out of the building.

Mayor Dave McDowell says they filled hundreds of sandbags Wednesday and are going to start setting them up around the village next week. He's also declaring a state of emergency this week in order to set up equipment like pumps and hoses throughout town.

Office of NY Governor Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo says that state agencies are offering additional resources to help protect communities along the Lake Ontario shoreline. He made the comment during a news conference in Sodus Point on Monday afternoon

With the lake about a foot above historic levels, Cuomo noted it’s hard to say just what should be an average level for the lake in recent years.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

With concerns about rising levels on Lake Ontario, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that he has directed state agencies to begin deploying resources to protect communities along the lakeshore.

He notes that following severe flooding in Canada, the International Joint Commission has continued to reduce outflows of water from the Moses-Saunders Dam on the St. Lawrence River in an effort to minimize impacts, and the lake's water level currently sits at more than one foot above average.

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