LAKE ONTARIO, NY (WROC) — Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo has declared a state of emergency in response to potential flooding in coming days.
The state of emergency will allow the county to limit boat traffic speeds to 5 miles per hour within 500 feet of the Lake Ontario shoreline. Dinolfo says this will effectively create a “no wake” zone along waterways in Monroe County.
The order will also impact Irondequoit Bay, Braddocks Bay, and the Genesee River.
“Despite our warnings, the International Joint Commission failed to lower lake levels when they had the chance and our community is paying the price – Lake Ontario is now at imminent risk of flooding,” said Dinolfo. “To help minimize damage to shoreline properties, I am declaring a State of Emergency and placing restrictions for boat travel on the lake, river, and both bays until further notice. It is incredibly unfortunate that our community’s cries fell on deaf ears with the IJC, but I want our residents to know that Monroe County is ready and able to act to protect their interests.”
At the same time, New York state officials were in Sodus Point promising help and more resources for lake residents facing the threat of flooding in the coming days and weeks.
Crews have spent the past few days packing sandbags to prepare for any potential flooding along the shore of Lake Ontario.
Lake levels are expected to peak at the end of the month. While some flooding is expected, right now, the forecast doesn’t call for flooding at the levels residents saw in 2017, when heavy rains brought significant flooding that caused millions in damage.
But, over the next few days, officials warn that a change in wind direction, along with heavy rain, will create waves and flooding for lake residents. To lessen damage from waves, thousands upon thousands of sandbags have been set up along the lakeshore.
The state says they are prepping for the worst and hoping for the best.
“The flooding that is going to occur… it’s not really a question of if but when at this point,” said Pat Murphy, the commission of the state’s Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services.
The state is now asking lake residents to contact their local leaders with concerns or needs and the state will respond accordingly.
If there is a municipality that needs assistance, Murphy says they should call 518-292-2200.
“That will alert us to the needs and we will continue to push resources as we can,” Murphy explains. “And we will — we have additional resources available to continue to support operations.”
“You need to be prepared now,” added Michael Kopy, the governor’s Director of Emergency Management. “The time is to prepare. We’re here, we have the resources that are available. The governor has committed every state resource to make sure the residents are protected. We just need to know where.”
Kopy says the state will remain in place in Sodus Point and other areas until the threat subsides.
Sodus Point Mayor Dave McDowell says it’s critical crews do what they can to prevent any damage.
“This community thrives in the summer,” the mayor says, “We have a lot of ice fisherman in the winter but the real money is spent during the summer.