Schumer says more sandbags, help from Army Corps headed to Lake Ontario shoreline

Photos by Tom Rivers: Kendall residents, with some help from other community members, try to build a wall of sandbags to help fight flooding. This photo, which includes resident Mike Anschutz (center in camouflage) was taken on Sunday.

Posted 12 May 2017 at 8:18 pm

Press Release, Sen. Charles Schemer

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Army Corps of Engineers plans to deploy two expert federal mitigation teams to Lake Ontario communities to help address the ongoing flooding issues, which are a result of high water levels that are impacting homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure.

“Rising water levels are threatening and have damaged Lake Ontario communities’ homes, businesses and infrastructure and the feds must do all they can to prevent damage and protect critical infrastructure,” Schemer said in news release on Thursday. “That’s why it’s essential for these federal Army Corps teams of flood experts to get on the ground ASAP and provide technical support and mitigation assistance to help prevent further flooding damage. They can also lay important groundwork for the delivering of future federal resources. I am glad the Army Corps will expand their efforts tomorrow and over the weekend to help local communities. Every federal resource helps, and I will work hard to deliver any and all available support.”

National Guard members place sandbags along the shoreline at Ed Rose Shores in Kendall on Sunday. Many Kendall residents have lost big chunks of their backyards to erosion in the past two weeks.

The Army Corps of Engineers will deploy technical experts to 10 sites in the Lake Ontario area that were selected and identified by the New York State Emergency Management Office: Olcott, Kendall, Hamlin, Irondequoit, Webster, Sodus/Sodus Point, Huron, Fair Haven, Lyme, and Ogdensburg.

Already, the Army Corps of Engineers has supplied approximately 150,000 sandbags to towns and communities along New York’ Lake Ontario coastline as a mitigation measure. Schumer says he will continue to push for more support for the Lake Ontario Community and New York State as they grapple with high water level brought on by increased precipitation and snowmelt.

Due to increased flooding issues, Schumer called on the Army Corps to deploy experts in areas like coastal engineering, geology, hydrology and, engineering operations. Specifically, the teams will work to assess conditions and provide technical assistance and guidance on constructing/installing temporary flood mitigation controls.

Once that assessment is complete then New York State can work with the communities to take action, and implement Army Corps recommendations or in some situations the State may be able to request additional action be taken on a case by case basis under the Army Corps’ Advanced Measures Program.

If the State and local community choose to pursue that approach with specific projects then the Army Corps could cover up to 75% of the cost. In addition to the response teams, and Schumer helped to secure thousands of sandbags, other mitigation tools to help alleviate the flooding.

Schumer explained this year, the above average precipitation and snowmelt has dramatically increased water levels in lakes, streams, and rivers across the Great Lakes including Lake Ontario. For example according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer data, the current Lake Ontario levels have now surpassed levels last experienced during the high water year of 1973. Schumer said with the wet conditions expected to continue in the near-term and with more rain forecasted this month that it was past time to give residents the tools they need to deal prevent further damage from high water levels and flooding.

Schumer has pushed officials to address the Lake Ontario flooding. Just this month Schumer sent letters to the US Army Corps of Engineers. Schumer pushed and got the Army Corps of Engineers to help join in the flood protection efforts. Following Senator Schumer’s letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Army Corps’ USACE Buffalo District agreed to issue a Declaration of Emergency designation order.

This allows the USACE to activate their Emergency Operations Center to (EOC) to assist the State of New York during the Lake Ontario High Water Level Event 2017. The order enables the Army Corps to support the NYS agencies response efforts and enables them to conduct technical assistance activities, such as the deployment of technical assistance official to the impacted areas.

Schumer also called on the Army Corps and the NYS DEC to issue a joint “General Permit” that will allow would allow towns, villages, and counties impacted by this flooding to take emergency storm protection measures without going through the longer study and review process.

This will allow municipalities and property owners to quickly do things like repairing or reinforcing break walls or other shoreline protection. The DEC and the Army Corps approved this expedited permit process and finalized it just last week.

Finally, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand sent a letter to the IJC, and urged them to use their authority under Criterion H14 take all actions possible to mitigate flood risks to at-risk homeowners – including increasing maximum possible outflows at the Moses-Saunders dam.

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