AMIDST FLOODING, SCHUMER ANNOUNCES MORE FED SUPPORT ON THE WAY TO LAKE ONTARIO COMMUNTIES; SENATOR SECURES DELIVERY OF SUPPLIES & OTHER ASSETS, INCLUDING FED TEAMS OF FLOOD EXPERTS TO ASSIST LOCALS COMBATTING LAKE ONTARIO WATER RISE
Schumer Successfully Secures Supplies Like Sandbags; In Addition, At Schumer’s Urging, Teams Of Army Corp Experts Will Join Locals’ On-The-Ground-Efforts To Mitigate Flooding This Weekend & Could Play Role In Helping Fund Future Protections
Schumer: More Fed Support Is On The Way To Help Communities Hit By Rising Waters
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that, after his push, the Army Corps of Engineers plans to deploy two Army Corps of Engineers expert federal mitigation teams to Lake Ontario communities to help address the ongoing flooding issues, which are a result of high water levels that are impacting homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure.
“Rising water levels are threatening and have damaged Lake Ontario communities’ homes, businesses and infrastructure and the feds must do all they can to prevent damage and protect critical infrastructure. That’s why it’s essential for these federal Army Corps teams of flood experts to get on the ground ASAP and provide technical support and mitigation assistance to help prevent further flooding damage. They can also lay important groundwork for the delivering of future federal resources. I am glad the Army Corps will expand their efforts tomorrow and over the weekend to help local communities. Every federal resource helps, and I will work hard to deliver any and all available support.” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
The Army Corps of Engineers’ will deploy technical experts to ten sites in the Lake Ontario area that were selected and identified by the New York State Emergency Management Office: Olcott, Kendall, Hamlin, Irondequoit, Webster, Sodus/Sodus Point, Huron, Fair Haven, Lyme, and Ogdensburg. Already, the Army Corps of Engineers has supplied approximately 150,000 sandbags to towns and communities along New York' Lake Ontario coastline as a mitigation measure. Schumer says he will continue to push for more support for the Lake Ontario Community and New York State as they grapple with high water level brought on by increased precipitation and snowmelt.
Due to increased flooding issues, Schumer called on the Army Corps to deploy experts in areas like coastal engineering, geology, hydrology and, engineering operations. Specifically, the teams will work to assess conditions and provide technical assistance and guidance on constructing/installing temporary flood mitigation controls. Once that assessment is complete then New York State can work with the communities to take action, and implement Army Corps recommendations or in some situations the State may be able to request additional action be taken on a case by case basis under the Army Corps’ Advanced Measures Program. If the State and local community choose to pursue that approach with specific projects then the Army Corps could cover up to 75% of the cost. In addition to the response teams, and Schumer helped to secure thousands of sandbags, other mitigation tools to help alleviate the flooding.
Schumer explained this year, the above average precipitation and snowmelt has dramatically increased water levels in lakes, streams, and rivers across the Great Lakes including Lake Ontario. For example according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer data, the current Lake Ontario levels have now surpassed levels last experienced during the high water year of 1973. Schumer said with the wet conditions expected to continue in the near-term and with more rain forecasted this month that it was past time to give residents the tools they need to deal prevent further damage from high water levels and flooding.
Schumer has pushed officials to address the Lake Ontario flooding. Just this month Schumer sent letters to the US Army Corps of Engineers. Schumer pushed and got the Army Corps of Engineers to help join in the flood protection efforts. Following Senator Schumer’s letter to the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Army Corps’ USACE Buffalo District on agreed to issue a Declaration of Emergency designation order. This allows the USACE to activate their Emergency Operations Center to (EOC) to assist the State of New York during the Lake Ontario High Water Level Event 2017. The order enables the Army Corps to support the NYS agencies response efforts and enables them to conduct technical assistance activities, such as the deployment of technical assistance official to the impacted areas. Schumer also called on the Army Corps and the NYS DEC to issue a joint “General Permit” that will allow would allow towns, villages, and counties impacted by this flooding to take emergency storm protection measures without going through the longer study and review process. This will allow municipalities and property owners to quickly do things like repairing or reinforcing break walls or other shoreline protection. The DEC and the Army Corps approved this expedited permit process and finalized it just last week. Finally. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand sent a letter to the IJC, and urged them to use their authority under Criterion H14 take all actions possible to mitigate flood risks to at-risk homeowners - including increasing maximum possible outflows at the Moses-Saunders dam.
Schumer’s original letter to the Army Corp of Engineers, and the IJC appear below:
Dear Lt. Col. Adam Czekanski:
I write to urge you to move immediately to do everything in your power to help residents along Lake Ontario being impacted by significant flooding. According to U.S. Army Corps of Engineer data the current Lake Ontario water levels are at or near levels last experienced during the high water years in 1998 and 1993. While still below the record high level reached in April-May of 1973, wet conditions are expected to continue in the near-term with continued rains forecasted this month. This high water level is having a disastrous impact on homes, business, and infrastructure located along the lake.
Specifically, I’d ask that Army Corps offer any available resources to the local communities, including technical assistance, sand bags or similar portable barrier equipment, available water pumps, and any other equipment the Army Corps has available that could help. While I understand the Army Corps has a limited ability to respond to these situations, anything you can do to be helpful would be beneficial. Especially in emergency situations we need an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to help protect local residents.
In addition to the specific requests outlined above, I’d also ask that you continue to monitor the situation and work closely with local officials so that if a situation arises where your resources and expertise can be useful you’ll be able to quickly mobilize. I appreciate your consideration of this request, should you need more information please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Senator Charles E. Schumer
Lt. Col. Adam Czekanski
US Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District
Commissioner Basil Seggos
Department of Environmental Conservation
Dear Lt. Col. Adam Czekanski and Commissioner Basil Seggos:
I write to urge you to jointly and immediately issue a general permit that will allow those impacted by the significant flooding along Lake Ontario to engage in certain protection and mitigation measures. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer data, the current Lake Ontario water levels are at or near levels last experienced during the high water years in 1998 and 1993. While still below the record high level reached in April-May of 1973, wet conditions are expected to continue in the near-term with continued rains forecasted this month. This high water level is having a disastrous impact on homes, business, and infrastructure located along the lake.
Specifically, I'd ask that the Army Corps and Department of Environmental Conservation issue a general permit to allow counties, towns and villages along Lake Ontario to engage in flood protection measures immediately, as long as the measures are within certain thresholds and the permit is designed in a way that does not undermine important environmental protections. A general permit would allow towns, villages, and counties impacted by this flooding to take emergency storm protection measures without going through the longer study and review process. While in normal situations the permitting process brings important scrutiny and oversight to projects, in emergency situations like this local officials must be able to act quickly to harden and protect homes and critical infrastructure in accordance with long-term environmental protection.
In addition to the specific request outlined above, I'd also ask that you continue to monitor the situation and use your expertise to work closely with local officials to offer any available resources including technical assistance, sand bags or similar potable barrier equipment, available water pumps, and any other equipment available that could help. I appreciate your consideration of this request. Should you need more information, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Chair, U.S. Section
International Joint Commission (IJC)
Brig. General Mark Toy
U.S. Chair, International St. Lawrence River Board of Control
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Commander, Great Lakes and Ohio River Division
Dear IJC Chairwoman Pollack and General Toy,
Above average precipitation every month so far this year, combined with seasonal snowmelt, has increased water levels in lakes, streams, and rivers across the Great Lakes, including the Lake Ontario Watershed in New York. As a result over the last month, water levels have increased in each of the Great Lakes, including Lake Ontario which is currently 21 inches higher than its historical April average. According to U.S. Army Corps of Engineer data the current Lake Ontario water levels are at or near levels last experienced during the high water years in 1998 and 1993. While still below the record high level reached in April-May of 1973, wet conditions are expected to continue in the near-term with continued rains forecasted this month. Therefore, we write to ask the IJC and the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board of Control to assess and take all actions possible to mitigate flood risks to at-risk homeowners, including maximum possible outflows at the Moses-Saunders dam and any other reasonable actions that mitigate flood risk.
As you know Criterion H14 of Plan 2014 authorizes the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board to deviate from Plan 2014 when water levels triggers are reached. Specifically it enables the Board to “provide all possible relief to riparian owners upstream and downstream” of the Moses-Saunders Dam near Massena, NY when lake levels reach prescribed “trigger threshold” levels that are calculated for every quarter month of the year (essentially weekly). While outflows from the Moses-Saunders dam can only provide a degree of control over Lake Ontario water levels, and less so in periods of unusually high precipitation, this trigger will enable the Board to take actions such as increasing outflows at the dam. As such, we ask the IJC and the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board to use its authority under Criterion H14 to address these concerns.
We appreciate your diligence in monitoring and acting in real time as conditions change on Lake Ontario and thank you in advance for your consideration of this request.
Senator Charles E. Schumer