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Olcott homeowners deal with flooding along Lake Ontario

Posted at 5:38 PM, May 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-28 17:38:06-04

The International Joint Commission (IJC) briefed members of the media inside the Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo headquarters Tuesday. It said in the next few days, water levels on Lake Ontario could exceed the record high set in 2017. And, potentially higher levels are possible, should wet weather continue.

The IJC is regulating water flow in and out of the great lakes under "Plan 2014." Some blame the plan for the flooding and shoreline damage.

But the IJC said that's not the case.

“Because the water levels are so high. Plan 2014 gives the Commission the authority to make decisions as we see fit, and so they are being constrained by Plan 2014 right now. They are letting water out without causing flooding in other areas. So, I think that’s important to keep in mind,” said Jane Corwin, one of three recently appointed U.S. I.J.C. Commissioners. “Letting the water down in Lake Ontario could make it worse in Montreal,” Corwin added.

Corwin said water levels are high because of precipitation and snow pack. So, she isn’t convinced repealing or revamping the Plan is the answer. “It took a long time to do it. It would take a long time to undo it.”

Try telling that to residents like Gary Feeley. He has about a foot of water in his basement.

“This is by far worse than 2017,” he said.

Feeley's trying to salvage what he can. “We had a chest freezer over here. I moved it and put it up on blocks,” he told 7 Eyewitness News.

Niagara County emergency crews were right outside Feeley's home on Tuesday placing thousands of sandbags along the water's edge. “As it's been coming up, we're just trying to meet the demand,” said Niagara County Deputy Fire Coordinator, Dan Leven.

Sandbags will remain there for the duration of the summer. Water levels are only expected to increase with time.