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New restaurant struggles to stay afloat due to shoreline flooding


A new restaurant in the town of Huron is struggling to stay afloat due to all the flooding on the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Bryan Ritter cashed in all his savings and opened Pier Fifty-Three Open Air Bar & Brick Oven on Labor Day weekend. He said he and his family wanted to give people a taste of what it’s like to live along the lake. But he said business has been struggling since they opened the restaurant because of the flooded docks.

Ritter said he put in docks for people to park their boats and come to the restaurant, but now that they’re flooded, no boaters means less business.

“It’s such a short summer here, we’re gonna run out of time quick I mean look at the restaurant now I’ve got two people in here it’s a summer day, school’s out this place should be packed,” said Ritter.

There is a torrent of water being released through the Massena dam up in northern New York. That’s the dam that allows Lake Ontario water to dash down the St. Lawrence River. The group controlling the outflow, the IJC, said they’re breaking their own rules to send out the current the amount. Ritter said he hasn’t seen a difference. He said he blames Plan 2014.

“I watch the water every day I’ve got my marks that I’m watching the levels and nothing’s moving it’s staying the same, they keep saying the floodgates are open record-breaking releases, I’m just not seeing anything,” he said.

Jim McVeigh has a cottage on Sodus Bay, and ate here today for the first time.

“He’s got a tremendous fleet for boat traffic to come here and it’s the perfect place for boaters to come here and enjoy the place but the docks are underwater,” said McVeigh.

Ritter said he’s already had to cut hours for employees and is considering taking a second job himself to be able to keep all of them. He said his family has a lot of tradition here, but if the water levels don’t go down soon he’s not sure what they’re going to do.

The IJC said this in a statement:

The board is currently operating under Criterion H14 of the ICJ’s order, which directs it to provide all possible relief to shoreline communities upstream and downstream, and gives the board authority to deviate from the flows specified by Plan 2014. Our attention is on providing all possible relief from flooding impacts, and the board has been continuously monitoring conditions in the basin.

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