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Orleans County declares state of emergency from high lake levels

Photo by Tom Rivers: Waves from Lake Ontario on May 10 hit the shoreline in Carlton at Oak Orchard on the Lake.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 May 2019 at 11:15 am

‘There is presently no immediate public safety threat’ — Dale Banker, Emergency Management director

Orleans County and the towns of Carlton and Yates today have all declared a state of emergency from the rising Lake Ontario water levels.

The Town of Kendall declared a state of emergency from the lake on May 8, the first municipality in Orleans to make the declaration.

The local municipalities have already taken action to protect properties, with sandbags and AquaDams in place at some vulnerable areas. Many of the property owners, using state funding, also put in new break walls after flooding from the lake in 2017.

“There is presently no immediate public safety threat, the situations will continually be monitored and orders will be executed based on circumstances at the time of concern,” said Dale Banker, director of the Emergency Management Office in Orleans County.

In Carlton, Town Supervisor Gayle Ashbery has issued a local emergency order with no wake from boats within 500 feet of the shoreline. Boaters must be at idle speed only. This will reduce some of the flooding impact.

The order takes effect immediately and may be renewed every five days.

Jim Simon, Yates town supervisor, issued the state of emergency effective at 11 a.m. today. He wrote in the declaration that he is directing town departments and agencies “to take whatever steps necessary to protect life and property, public infrastructure, and provide such emergency assistance deemed necessary.”

The declaration will expedite state resources for the town, including AquaDams, large grain bags to hold multiple sandbags, and assistance from the National Guard and inmate crews from state prisons with the flood protection.

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo on May 9 issued a state of emergency due to high waters along Lake Ontario. The county implemented a 5 mph speed limit for all boat traffic within 500 feet of the Lake Ontario shoreline in Monroe County.

Wayne County also has declared a state of emergency for bays in Sodus, Huron and Wolcott.

The National Weather Service has issued a beach hazards warning for Niagara and Orleans counties from today through Tuesday afternoon. It will be dangerous to swim in the lake with life-threatening waves and currents are expected. Stay out of the water and stay away from dangerous areas like piers and breakwalls, the Weather Service said.

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