State homeland security officials continue tour of shoreline as Lake Ontario rises

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Lake Ontario waters rising

New York State Homeland Security officials visited Youngstown Wednesday, as they continued their tour of Lake Ontario shoreline communities. They’re meeting with local leaders to discuss the problems posed by high waters.

“It’s inevitable that business is going to be affected,” said Patrick Murphy, Commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

Niagara Jet Adventures, which is located on the Niagara River at Lake Ontario’s mouth, is already being affected. Water is already on its docks and surrounds its fuel pump.

“I supply the fuel to all the government agencies down here that patrol our border,” said owner Brian Price. “If we lose the point where we’re able to pump fuel, you’re not going to have anybody on this river patrolling your borders.”

Mike Niezgoda, a spokesperson for U.S Customs and Border Protection said they also have the ability to fuel their own watercraft.

After his business was damaged in 2017, Price spent money to raise his floors six inches. But, he notes, water is already starting to get inside his building again.

“Somebody has got to get a handle on this and figure this out,” he said.

Murphy is urging people living on the shoreline to take action to protect their property now, He noted the water won’t crest for another couple of weeks.

Officials in the Town of Newfane have already made one tough decision. On Tuesday, Supervisor Tim Horanburg announced Olcott Beach will be closed in 2019.

“We look at what (the lake level) is now and what is the long term forecast,” Horanburg said. “We have to make the decision. The lifeguards have to get other summer jobs.”

The lake is nearing the 248.5 foot mark, and is forecasted to rise another seven inches over the next month.

Olcott Beach also closed in 2017, when the lake reached 249 feet. After that summer, $40,000 in federal, state, and town money were spent fixing the beach. Horanburg said all of that money has now gone to waste.

“It’s in the lake,” he said.

Despite now closing the beach for the second time in three years, the town supervisor said the beach will not close permanently.

“We’ll think of something,” Horanburg said.

Town officials are still inviting people to Olcott this summer, and urging them to visit the splash pad in Krull Park instead.

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