WITH RECORD LAKE LEVELS & SPRING FLOOD THREATS LOOMING, SCHUMER PUSHES VITAL NEW FIXES FOR BATTERED WAYNE COUNTY BEACHES AND BREAKWALLS; JOINED BY A SEA OF HOMEOWNERS STILL RECOVERING FROM STORMS, SENATOR ANNOUNCES MULTI-MILLION $$ FIX TO CHARLES POINT BREAKWATER & LAUNCHES MAJOR PUSH TO RESTORE & STABILIZE CRESCENT BEACH, BLIND SODUS, PORT BAY
Lake Ontario Floods Have Cost Millions Of Dollars Of Damage To Wayne County Homes, Businesses, & Beaches, Including Homes on Charles Point Bluff Now At Risk of Falling Into Lake Ontario Because Breakwall is Broken & Eroded.
Today Following His Push, Schumer Announces He Secured $4.5 Million To Rebuild Charles Point Wall Better & Stronger, And Schumer Calls On Feds To Immediately Approve Upcoming Disaster Recovery Grant, Sending $1.5 Million To Stabilize And Repair Wayne County’s Crescent Beach, Blind Sodus, Port Bay
Schumer To EDA: Approve Funding & Help Wayne County Prevent The Next Flood Damage Disaster
Joined by Wayne County homeowners recovering from the flooding of Lake Ontario, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that following his push he has secured $4.5 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to finally repair and rebuild the battered Charles Point barrier beach break wall that is needed to protect Sodus Bay and to safeguard homes on Charles Point bluff at risk of falling into Lake Ontario. With the Charles Point funding now secured, Schumer today also announced a new campaign to repair and restore Wayne county’s other barrier beaches and bays damaged by Lake Ontario’s floods by launching a major push for the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to quickly approve an upcoming Disaster Recovery grant that Wayne County officials are pursuing for $1.5 million needed to stabilize and repair Wayne County’s Crescent Beach, Blind Sodus, and Port Bay. The Schumer-backed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 allows any county designated with a Federal Disaster Declaration between 2017-2019, such as Wayne County was in 2017, to be eligible to apply for EDA Disaster Recovery grants to fund infrastructure work needed to recover from disaster-caused economic harm and to enable long-term community economic recovery, redevelopment and resiliency. Today Schumer called on U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to stand ready to approve Wayne County’s forthcoming $1.5 million Disaster Recovery grant application need to match $30 million pledged by New York State to restore barrier beaches like Crescent Beach that have been breached and washed out and stabilize bluffs and infrastructure eroded away at Blind Sodus and Port Bay in order to safeguard hundreds of homes and businesses located along these waterways.
“Over the past few years, Lake Ontario’s historic flooding has battered Wayne County communities and their bays and harbors including Great Sodus Bay, Blind Sodus, and Port Bay, which generate millions of dollars in annual economic output, essentially decimating their local economy,” said United States Senator Charles Schumer. “It’s clear that nothing short of an all-hands on deck approach is absolutely paramount, which is why today I’m proud to deliver $4.5 million to finally repair and rebuild the Charles Point barrier beach break wall, a vital shield, protecting Soudus Bay and safeguarding homes on Charles Point bluff from falling into Lake Ontario. Although this is a major step in the right direction, the federal government can and must do more to help Wayne County recover which is why I’m now calling on the EDA to stand ready to approve the county’s $1.5 million Disaster Recovery grant, the necessary step to unlock the $30 million pledged by New York State to repair Crescent Beach, Port Bay, and Blind Sodus more resiliently. It’s time to restore barrier beaches and stabilize bluff and damaged infrastructure in order to protect hundreds of homes and business and get Wayne County back in business. I will continue to fight with every fiber of my being for any and all of the federal aid and technical support available to help these Lake Ontario communities recover and make them as resilient as possible to endure future storms.”
In 2017 following Lake Ontario’s floods, Schumer met with Wayne County Officials and Charles Point homeowners to begin his push for the U.S. Army Corps to allocate funding to repair the badly damaged Charles Point break wall. The floods broke through the wall in several places, allowing Lake Ontario waters to dangerously erode the Charles Point bluff, jeopardizing and undermining the land supporting homes on top of the bluff. Besides protecting Charles Point, the wall is a major component of the infrastructure that the Army Corps of Engineers built decades ago across the mouth of Sodus Bay to protect the Bay and the hundreds of homes and job-creating businesses located within the Bay from damaging Lake Ontario waters, waves, and erosion. The Charles Point wall together with Crescent Beach and the Army Corps’ navigation channel wall form a vital barrier that shields Sodus Bay but the floods damaged this barrier system by destroying the Charles Point wall and by breaching and washing away entire sections of Crescent Beach land. In 2018 Schumer first succeeded in getting the Army Corps to allocate $150,000 to design the Charles Point wall repair, then estimated to cost $1.5 million. However when the designs revealed $4.5 million would instead be required to reconstruct and rebuild the Charles Point wall to a higher resiliency standard to prevent future flood damage, Schumer wrote last fall to US Army Corps Commanding General Todd Semonite to push for the Army Corps to allocate the needed $4.5 million. Today Schumer announced the Army Corps heeded his push and included the $4.5 million in the Corps’ FY20 work plan published last week to construct the new upgraded and more resilient armored stone revetment Charles Point protection wall.
With the Charles Point funding now secured, Schumer today doubled down and launch a push to secure $1.5 in additional federal funding to stabilize and repair Wayne County’s Crescent Beach, Blind Sodus, and Port Bay. Under the New York State Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Wayne County is receiving $30,140,000, which equates to 95% of the funding needed for planned barrier beach restoration efforts, slope stabilization, and road and infrastructure reconstruction at Crescent Beach, Blind Sodus Bay, and Port Bay. To secure the remaining $1.507,000 (5%) funding needed for this resiliency plan Schumer today unveiled his plans to assist Wayne County pursue a federal EDA Disaster Recovery grant, made possible by the Schumer-backed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. Specifically, Wayne County will be pursuing this EDA grant funding to stabilize and repair breaches to Crescent Beach, the 21-mile area of barrier beach shoreline that together with Charles Point protects Great Sodus Bay which is home to 45 commercial charter boats, private marina businesses, over 800 boat slips, and a recreational boating industry which alone generates an estimated $12.7 million a year in economic activity and supports over 115 jobs. Similarly, funds will be used to stabilize 800 ft. of bluff along Blind Sodus Bay Road to protect critical infrastructure now endangered by erosion, including more than 100 boat slips that create an estimated $900,000 in economic activity and support about a dozen jobs. Lastly, repairs to the East and West Port Bay barrier bars and reconstruction of the current access road will support recreational and water-based businesses that require use of the channel, protect more than 380 boat slips from damage, and foster its recreational boating industry that provides more than $4.5 million in economic output and supports more than 60 jobs.
Town of Sodus Supervisor Scott Johnson said, “As Supervisor for the Town of Sodus, on behalf of our residents, I would like to thank Senator Schumer for his hard work in securing this funding for the work that will be done at Charles Point and pushing for funding for Crescent Beach. This project will greatly help keep our shoreline intact.
Eric Depew, Charles Point resident and past Charles Point Homeowner Association Vice President said, "This is such a huge relief to those of us on Charles Point, and frankly, for all those located on Sodus Bay. From the bottom of my heart, I truly appreciate all of Senator Schumer’s efforts on our behalf and on the behalf of all those who call Sodus Bay home. This truly wouldn’t have happened without your efforts and advocacy!”
Schumer has long pushed for flood protection and recovery to help New York’s Lake Ontario communities, homeowners, and business in the wake of devastating, repetitive Lake Ontario flooding. In December following passage of this year’s federal appropriations package, Schumer called on the International Joint Commission (IJC) to use its $1.5 million overhaul Plan 2014 including addressing changes to all the mechanisms used to control water levels, such as the current navigation limits (L Limits), so that water outflows can be increased during shipping season, lowering Plan 2014’s trigger levels to allow dam outflow increases sooner, modifying outflows (F-Limit) during the spring and fall to better manage flooding risks. In November Schumer argued to the Canadian and U.S. St. Lawrence Seaway Authorities that the fact that this fall shippers have stopped using some of the additional safety precaution measures they used this summer, indicates that there is further room to safely increase outflows above the current L limit and he wrote the Seaway Authorities to therefore support increased dam outflows. Last year, Schumer traveled to Niagara, Cayuga and Monroe Counties to tour the flooding damage and advocate for funding for the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency Study, which would seek to identify and suggest fixes for vulnerabilities across the Great Lakes’ shorelines. Last May, Schumer announced that following his push, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued an official Declaration of Emergency to activate its Emergency Operations Center to join with state and local efforts to assist Lake Ontario communities in the event of flooding.. Schumer also played a paramount role in securing aid for these communities in the wake of the flooding, including successfully pushing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to issue a major disaster declaration, which enabled federal recovery and repair funding to flow to Jefferson, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Wayne, Cayuga, and Monroe Counties.
A Copy of Schumer’s Letter to the Secretary of Commerce appears below.
Dear Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross,
I write to urge your attention to a forthcoming grant submission by Wayne County, New York to the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Disaster Supplemental grant program to fund construction of critical infrastructure to boost its resiliency and aid in its economic recovery following devastating Lake Ontario floods that began in 2017, caused millions of dollars in damages, and resulted in a Major Federal Disaster Declaration (FEMA-4348-DR).
Wayne County’s bays and harbors including Great Sodus Bay, Blind Sodus, and Port Bay, along with the millions of dollars in annual economic output they generate, were severely harmed due to months of flooding caused by record-high Lake Ontario water levels and destructive wave action. Flood waters washed out and eroded barrier beach shorelines, allowing damaging Lake Ontario waters into the bays and adversely impacting commercial businesses, marinas, charter fishing operations, hospitality and tourism businesses, and more. Wayne County is now pursuing EDA Disaster Supplement grant funding to construct new infrastructure to restore these barrier beach shorelines that are critical for the health and development of Wayne County’s economy.
Funding would be used to stabilize and repair breaches to Crescent Beach, an 21-mile area of barrier beach shoreline that protects Great Sodus Bay which is home to 45 commercial charter boats, private marina businesses, and over 800 boat slips that boost a recreational boating industry which alone generates an estimated $12.7 million a year in economic activity and supports over 115 jobs. Similarly, stabilization of 800 ft. of bluff along Blind Sodus Bay Road will protect critical infrastructure now endangered by erosion, including more than 100 boat slips that create an estimated $900,000 in economic activity and support about a dozen jobs. Lastly, repairs to the East and West Port Bay barrier bars and reconstruction of the current access road will support recreational and water-based businesses that require use of the channel, protect more than 380 boat slips from damage, and foster its recreational boating industry that provides more than $4.5 million in economic output and supports more than 60 jobs.
As you know, between federal Fiscal Year 2018 and FY19, Congress appropriated EDA $1.2 billion in supplemental disaster appropriations for competitive grants to help regions – like Wayne County—that were hit hard by a major disaster undertake construction projects that enable long-term community economic recovery, project implementation, redevelopment and resiliency. That is why I wholeheartedly support Wayne County’ forthcoming submission and ask that you expeditiously review and consider it for approval.