Flooding continues to linger in Lake Ontario

Senator Rob Ortt and Assemblyman Michael Norris visit Olcott

Mike Baggerman
July 11, 2019 - 2:29 pm

Flooding in patio area of Olcott Yacht Club by Lake Ontario. July 11, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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OLCOTT, N.Y. (WBEN) - Concerns remain for people who own property along Lake Ontario due to the flooding this year.

"Business is down but not bad," Mark Cassidy of Olcott Yacht Club said. "When folks who are not familiar with us see a 'road closed' sign, they're going to turn around."

Lake Ontario is in the midst of the record flooding. Last month saw an average depth of 249 feet, which is roughly nine inches more than the previous record of 248.33 inches set in 2017. Much of the blame of the high water levels has been pinned on the volume of rain hitting the region for the two years but also the controversial International Joint Commission, the governing body that regulates the highs and lows of Lake Ontario through a dam.

Cassidy said that their business was hurt by the flooding in 2017 and are going through the same experience this year. He said they've spent roughly $100 per week on fuel to pump the water off their property and back into the lake.

"Some of the venues have had people cancel events," Cassidy added. "Our patio is still a little bit underwater."

Ortt said the economy was hit by the Lake Ontario flooding and that people have the perception that places like Olcott are underwater.

"If that starts happening every other year or every year, there's a long-term impact on these lakefront communities in places like Olcott, where it's a blue economy," Ortt said. "If the lake is flooded, it impacts businesses. When the beach is closed, it impacts businesses. There's a ripple effect."

In May, Governor Andrew Cuomo introduced the Lake Ontario REDI initiative, which will develop an infrastructure plan to fix the flooding problem in those communities. New York previously committed more than $100 million to rebuild the communities hit by the flooding.

"All of the projects really center in this area here in Olcott," Ortt said. "For Niagara County, this is a key area where we need to see investment. People come from all over the county and all over Western New York to Olcott. If they're not coming, that's a problem."

Ortt said he wants to see more from the federal government to fix the flooding.

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