Congresswoman gets first-hand look at river flooding

Updated: May. 29, 2019 at 5:33 PM EDT
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CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - Congresswoman Elise Stefanik first boarded a boat and got a look at properties dealing with high water, then held a roundtable discussion with local officials, stakeholders and members of the International Joint Commission’s Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board at Save the River.

Stefanik said it was a chance to hear different perspectives, but also to make sure that Congress is addressing the problems people along the water are facing.

“I believe what we can do at the federal level is make sure that FEMA funds get to properties and constituents that are impacted faster. That’s something my office is here as a resource to work with,” said Elise Stefanik (R- 21st Congressional District).

Stefanik also says Congress needs to step up and appropriate funds for shoreline resiliency programs.

Much of the conversation at the table focused on the Plan 2014. Most there are supporters and detailed the benefits of having more natural water levels, like helping wetlands and the fish population to grow and extending the recreational boating season - all good for tourism.

It’s a different perspective from many, including people along the shoreline, who have blamed Plan 2014 for the high water and flooding.

Stefanik herself has been a supporter of the plan, but says it’s important that their concerns are heard.

“These are people that we want to make sure we’re supporting - making sure that I’m supporting mitigation efforts that we look for opportunities for the Army Corps of Engineers to harden the shoreline and also make sure that the IJC is hearing their concerns,” she said.

One big takeaway - people at the table said they want to educate people on Plan 2014 and why the water is regulated the way it is.

For example, something they say they’ve heard a lot this year: why wasn’t more water let out sooner? But as a Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board member pointed out, this past winter recorded the fourth highest average outflows since 1901.

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