Crews will use sandbags and temporary dams to prepare for potential flooding along Lake Ontario, where rising waters caused extensive damage in 2017, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a visit to the area Wednesday.
The worst of the flooding from heavy rain and snow melt is predicted to begin within a week, according to emergency management officials who met with Cuomo during his visit to Olcott in Niagara County.
Meanwhile, members of the New York National Guard are on standby as local and state agencies closely monitor rising water levels, especially in areas vulnerable to floods.
According to the Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Ontario has risen a foot in the past month and is likely to rise another 11 inches (27 centimeters) over the next month.
A particular concern Wednesday was making sure runoff pipes that drain into the lake don’t back up, causing problems inland.
Cuomo repeated a complaint about the International Joint Commission, a U.S.-Canada entity that controls outflows from the lake into the St. Lawrence River. He said the agency has not done enough to protect New York property owners, especially since the 2017 flood, which cost the state $100 million in recovery funding.
“This is not a sustainable situation. We can’t go through this every year,” Cuomo said. “The IJC has to figure out a better way to manage the water, period.”
A message left with the commission Wednesday was not immediately returned.