May 10, 2019
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Deploys Additional 100 New York National Guard Members to Support Preparedness Operations in Eight Counties Impacted By Lake Ontario Flooding

Governor Cuomo Deploys Additional 100 New York National Guard Members to Support Preparedness Operations in Eight Counties Impacted By Lake Ontario Flooding

Additional Deployment Brings Total National Guard Members Deployed to 200

18 Sandbaggers, Over 850,000 Sandbags, Hundreds of Pumps, and Over 3,200 Feet of Aquadam Currently Deployed to Effected Counties

Governor Continues to Urge Residents and Municipalities to Take Precautions

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he has deployed 100 additional members of the New York National Guard to assist with preparedness operations in eight counties impacted by potential Lake Ontario flooding. This additional deployment brings the total number of National Guard deployments to 200. To date, the State has deployed 18 sandbaggers, over 850,000 sandbags, hundreds of pumps, and over 3,200 feet of aquadam to the impacted regions.

"To those living in lakefront communities: remember 2017, remember the flooding. The water will most likely come back to the same areas to almost the exact same spot. If you had damage in 2017, don't wait for the floods to come. Please call your local supervisor, your local major and tell them you need help so they can call the state," Governor Cuomo said. "We're going to call up another 100 National Guard today. So we have National Guard, we have aquadam, we have sandbags, we have pumps, we have people deployed. But we need to know where they need to be deployed before the fact."

The Governor also urged residents and local officials in the eight counties potentially impacted by Lake Ontario flooding to intensify their preparations as a slow moving storm will bring heavy rain and winds to the region this weekend. The precipitation and strong gusts, will increase the likelihood flooding or pooling of water along the shoreline as water levels in the lake and along the St. Lawrence River have remained higher than average due to heavy snow melt and above average rainfall. This extreme weather has required the proactive deployment of state resources to the region to protect homeowners and businesses from potential flooding.

The Governor is also urging local officials to work with their County Emergency Managers to submit any resource needs directly into NY Responds, the state's web-based system that enables both local governments and state agencies to submit and share vital emergency-related information and resource requests. Emergency Managers may also submit requests through the New York State Watch Center at 518-292-2200 if they are unable to access NY Responds at the time.

In addition, Department of Environmental Conservation spills experts are proactively inspecting marinas and near-shore facilities to ensure fuel storage tanks and other infrastructure are safely secured and these facilities are prepared for high water.

Following a meeting with State officials last week the International Joint Commission has increased outflows of water from the Robert Moses-Robert H. Saunders Power Dam on the St. Lawrence River in order to minimize impacts, however the lake's water level remains more than one foot above average and could continue to rise.

Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo wrote to the IJC requesting that the Commission maximize outflows from the Lake Ontario system to prevent the flooding that thousands of New Yorkers grappled with in 2017. Since then, water levels have remained higher than average and are expected to increase in the coming weeks.

In addition to the Division's coordination efforts and deployment of resources the State Department of Environmental Conservation has issued a General Permit to address the potentially damaging effects of high water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River due to the ongoing above average precipitation and snow melt in the Great Lakes Basin. This permit, based on an Emergency Declaration issued by the DEC commissioner, will expedite the process for shoreline property owners to quickly make necessary repairs and stabilize their properties from flood damage. High water levels are projected to continue and may cause widespread shoreline erosion, damage coastline structures and jeopardize infrastructure similar to the historic flooding that took place in the spring of 2017.

The new permit is available on DEC's website. DEC will accept applications through April 30, 2020. The General Permit authority is in effect until September 30, 2020.

Permitted activities include:

  • Repair and in-kind replacement of erosion structures;
  • Repair or in-kind reconstruction of existing public roads, bridges, utilities, and other public infrastructure;
  • Stabilization of existing, functional storm-damaged dwellings, decks, and walkways with temporary bracing and piling; and
  • Removal of channel blockages in tributaries to Lake Ontario blocked by shoreline sediment.

Homeowners and municipalities with questions about the permits can contact their Regional DEC Permit Administrator.

Additionally, the State Department of Transportation is overseeing sandbag filling operations in the eight counties bordering Lake Ontario, in cooperation with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision which has provided work crews made up of between 5-12 eligible incarcerated individuals, who have filled more than 260,000 sandbags and worked on an aquadam deployments. DOCCS will continue to make additional crews available as the situation evolves.

DOT's incident command system has been activated for this weather event and maintenance staff are deploying DHSES equipment such as water pumps and aqua dams to strategic locations bordering the Lake in anticipation of flooding. Crews are also readying response equipment, inspecting drainage structures in low lying areas, and inspecting culverts for debris. The New York State Power Authority and Canal Corporation have also provided assistance in transporting resources to affected communities.

Since the last high water event along the Lake Ontario, Lower Niagara River and St. Lawrence River shorelines in 2017, the State has made a $95 million commitment to the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River Shorelines. The recovery program started with an initial $45 million commitment for aid to residents, small businesses and municipalities affected by the flood. It was supplemented with two $5 million grants from the State and Municipal Facilities Program to bolster previous relief and provide necessary financial assistance to recovery efforts. The 2018-19 State Budget included an additional $40 million for the recovery program, which continued to support shoreline reconstruction and stabilization, reimbursement for emergency repairs during the flooding and seawall reconstruction.


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