OLCOTT, N.Y. (WIVB) — You typically see it around this time of year — rising waters along the Lake Ontario shoreline. In preparation for the flooding that could come, the state is prepping tens of thousands of sandbags.
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office says lake water levels have surpassed 247 feet and could continue to rise — a potentially frightening statistic seeing as how the lowest points along the lake begin to flood when the water reaches 248 feet.
At its highest, the lake reached 249.09 feet — a record broken on June 14, 2019. Just two years before that, the International Joint Commission says a record-high level of 248.95 feet had been set.
“Several recent periods of heavy rain have led to above-average water levels on Lake Ontario,” the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray says.
Still, Hochul’s office says water levels are not forecasted to reach the flood stages seen in 2017 and 2019. During those times, flooding caused damage to homes, businesses and other infrastructure along the shoreline.
It even had an impact on the film industry. Four years ago, while “A Quiet Place Part II” was being shot in western New York, former Town of Newfane Supervisor Tim Horanburg told News 4 that filmmakers had to give up on using “the harbor and pier and docks.”
A previous News 4 report says water levels in Lake Ontario had begun to rise an inch per day that spring.
If needed, the state has the following resources ready to deploy for the lake, as well as the St. Lawrence River:
- 957 water pumps
- 1,474 generators
- 20 sandbaggers
- 1,589,805 sandbags
- 403 traffic barriers
- 580 traffic barrels
- 35,224 feet of aqua dam
“Preparation is key when it comes to the ever-changing water level conditions on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River,” NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “DEC is working directly with Governor Hochul, DHSES, the IJC, and other state and local partners to help ensure we have the information and materials needed to respond to any flood conditions that arise. Through the ongoing success in implementing the REDI program in the region, New York State assists and supports flood-prone communities along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.”
Seggos also serves as co-chair of the Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI), which was established in 2019 to increase shoreline resiliency.
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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.