Flooding concerns rise along with water levels in Lake Ontario

Posted at 11:22 PM, May 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-14 23:22:16-04

Carol Ralicki is constantly checking the water levels in the backyard at her home on Water Street in Olcott. “I’ve lived here for 20 years and I've never seen it like this.”

She told 7 Eyewitness News it's been that way for the last two weeks. “We went to Home Depot and bought a sump pump and started pumping it out of the basement,” she explained. 

But Ralicki said the water just keeps coming. Sunday though, there was some relief. Volunteer firefighters from the Olcott Fire Company helped her save her home on Mother's Day. They built a wall out of sandbags, hoping to keep the rising water from Lake Ontario at bay. “Thank you Olcott Fire Co. for trying to save my house. It means a lot that they came here,” she said.

Some local officials blame the problem on a federal policy approved in 2014 that allows higher water levels. Others said it's Mother Nature's fault. Ralicki doesn't fall under the latter. “It rains a lot here. It never did that,” she said as she pointed to her flooded backyard.

Nearby businesses like the Olcott Yacht Club are also concerned with the higher than normal lake levels. “More tables would be set up out here. More people would be eating out here. We just haven't been able to do any work because the water's been washing over constantly,” said past commodore, Mike Layman.
Town officials also closed Krull Park Beach this season because of flooding.
State and federal officials continue to monitor the situation closely. Congressman Chris Collins visited the area in April vowing to undo the damage he said is being done by the Obama Administration.

It could get worse before it gets better. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the lake isn't expected to crest until early June.