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NYS sends help in fight against rising Lake Ontario water levels

Posted at 2:54 PM, May 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-12 23:10:43-04

The situation for people living along Lake Ontario continues to deteriorate as water levels keep rising.  According to the chairman of Niagara County Legislature Community Safety Committee, Lake Ontario has risen another 8 inches in just a week, bringing the total to over 40 inches since January.

New York State is responding to the crisis by deploying members of the 107th Attack Wing in Niagara Falls to fill sandbags in Olcott.

A Mobile Command Center from the NYS Department of Financial Services was also deployed to help people with questions about filing insurance claims.  Unfortunately, many are finding that their water-related damage is not covered.  State officials are urging people to make sure they document all damage, including taking pictures.

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul came to Olcott to tour problem areas.  With the water emergency expected to last into the summer months, Hochul said Governor Cuomo and the NYS Legislature are looking at all that can be done to help municipalities and property owners - including talking with the International Joint Commission (IJC) about water levels that are set on Lake Ontario as part an agreement between the U.S. and Canada called Plan 2014.

Opponents of Plan 2014 say the IJC failed to drain-off Lake Ontario earlier this year allowing record heavy rains to cause widespread shoreline erosion, flooding and destruction.  

The emergency situation is also expected to hurt communities as they lose sales tax dollars from tourism and fishing, as well as decreased property tax due to lower assessments on water-damaged properties.

7 Eyewitness New Reporter Ed Reilly is in Olcott and filed this report.