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Homeowners, communities on Lake Ontario shoreline brace for flooding

Charles Molineaux
Updated: February 10, 2020 11:08 PM
Created: February 10, 2020 10:37 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) — Communities and homeowners along Lake Ontario looked ahead to what could be a new springtime of flooding as the lake again hovered at ominously high water levels.  

As of Monday, the lake was at 246.49 feet above sea level, about six inches higher than it was at the same point in 2017 and 2019 before a destructive round of flooding in the spring and early summer of both years.

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The threat was a big caveat for Dennis Edwards as he started construction on his dream house in Greece. 

"In looking back at 2017 and 2019, I wanted to be above anything that we've had in the past as far as high water levels,” he said.   

Contractor Robert Hannon said he was working to put the first floor of Edwards’ house at 255.5 feet above sea level so even the crawlspace underneath would be high enough to avoid flooding if the lake came up once more.  

After devastating flooding in two of the past three years, Hannon said putting a house up meant literally putting it “up” high enough to avoid misery for the homeowner but also to save thousands on flood insurance.  

“The lenders, if they have a mortgage,” he said, “will require flood insurance and if you’re not above the flood rules, your premiums will be substantially higher than if you comply with the base flood elevations.”

The threat of flooding prompted a state of emergency, effective Monday in the Wayne County Village of Sodus Point which struggled with high water in 2017 and 2019.

The state of emergency effectively unleashed efforts, even on private property, to ensure that barriers, even sandbags, were high enough, over a minimum elevation of 250 feet above sea level as well as to expedite repairs and renovations to existing flood barriers.  

Some building permits for protection projects are expected to be issued this week.  

The threat also prompted possible new action in Congress.   

On Monday, Congressman John Katko (R) NY 24, who serves Wayne County, announced his sponsorship of a “Safe Harbors for our Recreation Economy Act” to press the Army Corps of Engineers and the Office Of Management and Budget to prioritize the protection of the area’s important recreation industry from future flooding, especially in areas like Little Sodus Bay.


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