ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – 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.
2017 saw severe flooding along the south shore of Lake Ontario, but officials are not sure yet to what extent there might be flooding this spring.
With precipitation forecasted for the northeast in the coming days and no word on when outflows will be increased, Cuomo says he wants to take proactive measures.
Cuomo says that 216,000 sandbags have begun to be deployed to strategic sites in Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence and Wayne Counties.
The state is is also prepared to deploy more than 6,700 feet of a temporary barrier called an aquadam to protect shoreline properties if needed.
The NY State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision is currently providing two 12-man work crews made up of eligible state prisoners to fill sand bags.
A crew from Willard Drug Treatment Center is also working at the State DOT facility in Sodus. The other crew is filling sandbags at the State DOT facility in Hilton, NY. The state corrections department has the capacity to activate six additional work crews in the coming days as needed.
Also, the NY State Department of Transportation is overseeing sandbagging operations at its facilities in each of the eight counties that border Lake Ontario. These efforts have already begun in Wayne and Monroe counties, where more than 10,000 sandbags were filled this weekend and are ready for deployment.