Governor Visits Jefferson County, Deploys Resources For Lake FloodingPosted: Updated:
Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state is concerned about rain and wind that is in the forecast for this week. He says if it comes, we could have another disaster on Lake Ontario.
After the record high water levels and flooding of 2017, Cuomo says the state is taking a proactive approach and doing everything it can to make sure the damage doesn't happen again.
He boarded a boat at Westcott Beach State Park in the town of Henderson to survey the rising water levels on Lake Ontario with local elected officials.
Cuomo says the lake is right at flood level and the state is preparing for flooding.
"Once the water is up and a home has flooded, the damage is done - so what can we do now to reduce the likely hood of damage," he said.
Cuomo announced Tuesday the state has deployed more than 100,000 sandbags and two sandbaggers to Jefferson County to protect against potential flooding.
He also said the state also has large bladders called aquadams and pumps available.
While that's the state's short term plan, Cuomo says there is a "new normal" when it comes to weather patterns and says if this is going to happen every couple of years the state will invest money and build new and better infrastructure like higher docks and more break walls.
"New York state spent $100 million after 2017. I don't want to replace what was there anymore because what was there doesn't work. It was built at a different time for a different reality," said Cuomo.
Water levels on Lake Ontario are a foot higher than average and a foot away from reaching 2017 levels.
The International Joint Commission, which regulates water levels, is letting 261,000 cubic feet per second out of the dam in Massena, but it's still less than what's pouring into Lake Ontario from Lake Erie through the Niagara River, which is unregulated.
Cuomo says the IJC needed to release more water sooner.
"By definition, when you have flooding, they have failed to manage the water outflow. They get us into this position where it's a Hobson's choice, 'Well, we have flooding in Canada, we have flooding in Montreal, we can't reduce outflow.' You should have never gotten to this position in the first place," he said. "We've seen this movie in 2017. We know how it turns out. Release more water earlier."
Cuomo also said it was frustrating, infuriating and irresponsible that the IJC does not have a New York person with a New York perspective on it.
Cuomo also made a plea to town supervisors and village mayors to call the state at 518-292-2200 and let it know what its community needs now before the storm.
And local officials say if shoreline property owners have a problem, they should call them.
"We're here, we're ready to help," said Scott Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators.
"Reach out to your local officials and we will work the channel for you to make sure you get the assistance you need," said Molly Reilly. mayor of Sackets Harbor.