Schumer Expects Federal Disaster Declaration For Lake Ontario Shoreline

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SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) toured flood ravaged portions of Lake Ontario Monday, and he’s presenting a three-tiered plan to deal with the record high water levels.

Docks along Little Sodus Bay in Fair Haven are nearly under water due to high water levels on Lake Ontario ELLEN ABBOTT / WRVO NEWS

Standing just a few feet from puddles, piled-up sandbags and flooded docks at a marina in the Cayuga County village of Fair Haven, Schumer spoke to worried lake residents.

“If you look at the marina we’re standing in, you see the devastation. And things are particularly dire here in Fair Haven and Little Sodus Bay, because some of the critical infrastructure has collapsed,” Schumer said.

His plan for dealing with record high water levels starts with repairing the collapsed infrastructure and undertaking studies to find long term ways to protect the lakefront no matter how high waters rise. His other idea touches with what has become the most controversial aspect of the flooding: what to do about the International Joint Commission’s Plan 2014, which changed the way water levels on Lake Ontario are regulated.

“What we’ve got to do is get [Plan] 2014 totally revamped and changed so it works for us, and that is why everybody is here. And we have to do it before the next major flood appears, because it’s too late for this one!” Schumer said.

Many residents agree something has to be done about Plan 2014. Fair Haven Mayor James Basile suggested that the IJC go back to a 1958 plan, called Plan 1958DD, that governed water levels for decades.

“If they can present something better than the 1958 plan, which saw rainfalls and weather events that this year didn’t even make the top ten, then we’d be glad to be look at it with them,” Basile said.

Schumer also announced Monday that he expects the entire Lake Ontario shoreline will be declared a disaster area shortly, which will allow homeowners, businesses and governments to access federal disaster dollars.