Lake Ontario expected to rise—state, communities prep for flooding

Apr 30, 2019

Water levels in Lake Ontario remain more than a foot above average for this time of year. With rain in the forecast, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed state agencies to begin deploying resources to protect communities along the lake and the St. Lawrence River - from Buffalo to Massena.

Visiting Sodus Point in Wayne County yesterday, he said the state is preparing for the worst, “We are preparing and assuming that there will be flooding later in the week. Hopefully, that doesn’t come to pass, but prepare for that reality.”

Flooding preparation in Sodus, NY
Credit Mike Groll, Office of Gov. Cuomo

The state’s division of homeland security and emergency services has already begun to distribute more than two hundred thousand sandbags in eight counties. Chuck Ruggiero is deputy director of Jefferson County’s Office of Fire and Emergency Management. “In Jefferson County,” he said, “we’re getting approximately 25,000 sandbags filled by the state department of transportation using state labor.”

Ruggiero says it’s hard to predict the magnitude of any potential flooding. He’ll be watching how water levels change in the next days. In the meantime, he said, “We simply would ask everyone that has a seasonal home or who lives full time on the lakeshore or the riverfront to pay particular attention to their property and if they have concerns to contact their local government officials.”

Although water levels remain above the historic average, they are almost a foot below 2017 levels, when severe flooding affected the lake and river shores.

In St. Lawrence County, Interim Director of Emergency Services Keith Zimmerman says water levels in the St. Lawrence River appeared to go down from Saturday to Sunday, but the county will continue to monitor the situation and prepare for any potential flooding.