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Schumer: Army Corps Of Engineers Should Prioritize Project For New, Safer, And Durable Sodus Bay Barriers Along Lake Ontario Shoreline, And Use Dredged Fill To Close The Crescent Beach Washout  

Schumer To Feds: We Must Not Pass Up Any Opportunity To Protect Homes & Local Businesses

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to conduct repairs to protect Sodus Bay including the Sodus Bay Breakwater, the Charles Point steel wall, and a washout at Crescent Beach.  These three key improvements are needed in order to fix the only barrier protecting all of Sodus Bay from Lake Ontario's direct damaging wind-driven waves and erosion and to protect the over 75 houses along Charles Point and Crescent Beach. Flooding has badly damaged the current breakwater putting Sodus Bay homes and business at risk, it has destroyed the steel wall and allowed flood waters to erode the Charles Point cliff, and it has caused an over 1000 foot wide area of Crescent Beach to washout forcing the evacuation of 4 houses and allowing Lake Ontario waters to rush unobstructed into Sodus Bay. Schumer said these pieces of infrastructure are critical to protecting the region’s shoreline and that it is the Army Corp’s responsibility to repair and maintain it. Schumer said Lake Ontario’s coastline has experienced severe flooding over the last several months. The flooding has shut down businesses, damaged homeowner property and public infrastructure, and eroding away land and shoreline protections. These damages could be mitigated by the Army Corps taking action now to correct these three failure points along Sodus Bay's protective barrier. Schumer is urging the Army Corp to do its part and prioritize these projects.

“This community has dealt with months of repeated flooding and erosion. With every wind-driven wave the areas surrounding Sodus Bay, Crescent Beach and Charles Point have seen continued and unrelenting damage. It is very clear that people and business are struggling and that is time for the Army Corps to fulfill their responsibility to taxpayers by fixing this failing infrastructure,” said Senator Schumer. “This is why I am calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair the breakwater and steel wall, and help close the now 1000 foot wide open area of Crescent Beach to put the community back on track. The Army Corps owns and operates this breakwater, the steel wall, and performs dredging. It’s vital they get behind these projects because Sodus Bay plays a key role in the regional economy.”

Schumer said the Lake Ontario coastline has experienced ongoing severe flooding for several months. The damage from the flooding has been profound, shutting down businesses, damaging homes, property, public infrastructure, and eroding away land and shoreline protections. In May 2017, following Schumer's urging, the USACE Buffalo District issued a Declaration of Emergency and deployed technical assistance teams to impacted communities including Charles Point and Crescent Beach in the Towns of Sodus and Huron within Great Sodus Bay in Wayne County, NY. Following the deployment, Schumer said a the Army Corps issued a June 2nd report revealing the critical need to repair failing infrastructure and additional opportunities to assist in the area's recovery. Schumer said that the report made clear that the upgrades were in the Army Corps’ purview and thus, they must prioritize the repairs in the Corps’ Work Plan, and conduct these repairs as quickly as possible.

Schumer is calling for the Army Corps to do the following:

  1. To prioritize adequate funding in the USACE's upcoming Work Plan to repair and rebuild the failing the Sodus Bay Breakwater and the Charles Point steel wall. Currently the broken steel wall is allowing flood waters to erode the Charles Point cliff jeopardizing the land supporting homes on top of the cliff.  
  2. Help close the now over 1000 foot wide and 10 foot deep area of Crescent Beach that has washed out and forced the evacuation of 4 houses. 
  3. Prioritize in the FY 2019 budget a comprehensive Great Lakes Coast Shoreline Resiliency study that will identify sensitive and vulnerable coastal areas similar to Sodus Bay and strategies to start working with state, local, and federal entities to make these vulnerable coastlines more resilient from damaging erosion or flooding risks.  The Army Corps used this approach along the North Atlantic coastline following Superstorm Sandy.

Schumer explained Crescent Beach and Charles Point Peninsula act as an isthmus by connecting from the Sodus Bay Breakwater in the Town of Sodus to the Town of Huron mainland. This isthmus acts as a barrier and spans across the mouth of Sodus Bay and provides a vital shield to protect the homes, businesses, and communities along the in-land Sodus Bay and Sodus Point from Lake Ontario's damaging wave action and erosion impacts.  This year’s historical flooding has deeply compromised the protective barrier in three key areas, and Schumer warned that unless the Army Corps steps in to address these three areas: the whole harbor, as well as homes, structures, and infrastructure within the Bay could be at risk, including the over 100 houses on the Crescent Beach and Charles Point peninsula.  

Schumer was joined by Wayne Co. Board of Supervisors Chairman and Sodus Town Supervisor Steve LeRoy, Town of Huron Town Supervisor Laurie Crane, Village of Sodus Mayor Chris Tertinek, Wayne County Emergency Management Director George Bastedo, Charles Point Homeowner Association President and Crescent Beach Association member Eric Depew.

Charles Point, Sodus homeowner Eric Depew, who said, "As the Vice President of the Charles Point Homeowner Association, representing a dozen homes on Charles Point, as well as a member of the Crescent Beach Association consisting of an additional 75 homes on the Crescent Beach sand bar, we appreciate Senator Schumer's attention and advocacy to urge the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild the steel sheet pile wall that is vital to protect Charles Point and the houses built along the bluff, as well as repair the breakwater and Crescent Beach breach.”

Wayne County Board of Supervisors Chairman Steven LeRoy said, “Repairing the Army Corps of Engineer’s owned eastern breakwater and sheet pile wall is critical to not only safeguard houses on Charles Point but to protect Sodus Bay.  I appreciate Senator Schumer’s support to urge the Army Corps to complete this work.”

In a letter to U.S. Army Secretary Doug Lamont, Senator Schumer requested that the Army Corps prioritize adequate funding in the upcoming Work Plan to repair and rebuild Sodus Bay breakwater and Charles Point steel wall. The Army Corps own documentation has long been calling for these repairs. It is high time they live up to their responsibility. Secondly, Schumer pushed the Army Corps to pursue filling the breach at Crescent Beach by placing dredged sediment on the beach, rather than dumping it into Lake Ontario. Lastly, Schumer asked the Army Corps to prioritize, in the FY 2019 budget, a comprehensive Great Lakes Coast Shoreline Resiliency study to investigate opportunities to improve resilience within both the built and natural environments. The Army Corps conducted a similar program on the North Atlantic coastline in the wake of Super Storm Sandy.

Today's push is the latest effort by Schumer to secure any and all available federal funding to assist in the flood response.  Over the past nearly three months Schumer has:

  • Called on IJC to Increase Dam Outflows - Senators Schumer and Gillibrand wrote to the IJC May 2nd urging the IJC to use their authority under Criterion H14 to take every and all actions possible to mitigate flood risks to at-risk homeowners - including increasing maximum possible outflows at the Moses-Saunders dam to lower Lake Ontario water.
  • Secured Army Corps of Engineers Assistance - Senators Schumer and Gillibrand wrote to the Army Corps of Engineers May 2nd to request the Army Corps activate and mobilize to help join in the flood protection efforts. 
  • Secured Expedited Permit Approvals for Emergency Flood Protection Construction 
  • Arranged for Army Corps of Engineers Technical Teams to Deploy to Sodus, Huron, Irondequoit, Greece, Webster, Hamlin and other towns beginning on May 12th.
  • Called for the Federal Small Business Administration to Approve any Disaster Assistance Request by NYS on May 9th  
  • Called on FEMA to Approve any Assistance Request by NYS on May 18th and again on July 6th.
  • Helped Secure Nearly $10M Federal CDBG Block Grant money going to Communities for Flood Damage repairs 
  • Urged the Army Corps to Approve Town of Greece’s Erosion Mitigation Project Application to protect the Town’s coastline.
  • June 25th – Met with Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo to reiterate his support to push for any and all available federal assistance.