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New York braces for ‘worst-case’ flooding along Lake Ontario

April 30, 2019
FILE - In this May 2, 2017 file photo, Rob Bauman arranges sandbags along the banks of Lake Ontario on his parents' property in Greece, N.Y. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Sodus Point, N.Y on Monday where he says the state is preparing for a "worst-case scenario" as water levels again rise along Lake Ontario. Cuomo says flooding from heavy rain and snow melt is "a real possibility," so the state is providing thousands of sandbags and putting members of the New York National Guard on standby. (Jamie Germano/Democrat & Chronicle via AP, File )

SODUS POINT, N.Y. (AP) — New York state is preparing for a “worst-case scenario” as water levels rise along Lake Ontario where flooding caused extensive damage in 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

The Democrat was in Sodus Point in Wayne County to detail steps being taken to combat potential flooding.

Flooding from heavy rain and snow melt is “a real possibility,” Cuomo said, so the state is providing thousands of sandbags and putting members of the New York National Guard on standby.

The governor said state representatives will meet this week with members of the International Joint Commission, a U.S.-Canada entity that controls water outflows from Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River.

He said talks will involve New York’s concerns for lakeside property owners threatened by a repeat of 2017′s flooding.

“Many of the properties have been improved from 2017,” Cuomo said in Sodus Point, which was among the worst-hit areas two years ago. “The state has additional money that is available for that purpose.”

The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is coordinating preparedness with local officials. More than 200,000 sandbags are being sent to sites in an eight-county region stretching from the Niagara River near the lake’s western end to the St. Lawrence River.

The mayor of Sodus Point, David McDowell, said residents are “concerned, and rightly so.” The waterfront community 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Rochester often is the first place in the region to feel the impact of high water.

Bill Reilich, town supervisor for the town of Greece, outside Rochester, said crews there started filling sandbags Sunday night. The town has been preparing for weeks and is ready for predicted rain, he said.

Authorities said the 2017 flooding was caused by record-high rainfall totals that spring, but some local officials and residents blamed it on the Joint Commission’s management of water levels on the lake.

Flooding has already caused problems across the lake in Ontario, where several days of heavy rain have swollen rivers and reservoirs.

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