Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Sodus Point offers sandbags to residents as water levels rise

With water levels nearing the flood stage, the Village of Sodus Point began filling sandbags this week to distribute to village residents for protection from potentially damaging waves.

On Wednesday, Sodus Point mayor Chris Tertinek said that the current levels were about three inches away from what he described as the flood stage and they are still rising.

“It has been steadily rising,” Tertinek told the Times of Wayne County. “Last Friday it was about six inches from flood stage, so from last Friday it rose about three inches.”

The sandbags are available for residents to pick up at the village salt barn on the corner of Lake Road and Seaman Street. The gate will be left open for 24-hour access.

“We got a sandbag machine from New York State or FEMA, and the sheriff brought down some inmates,” said Dave McDowell, president of Save Our Sodus. “We’re planning to fill more than 22,000 sandbags, which is what we need to put a two-foot wall around what’s called Sand Point or Greig Street.”

Potentially as soon as Monday, Tertinek said that they may have to declare a local state of emergency.

Tertinek blamed the current situation on IJC Plan 2014, the controversial new plan for regulating water levels in Lake Ontario that was approved in December after years of debate. The plan will result in greater highs and lows on the lake.

According to McDowell, the current levels are around 247.1 feet and under the old lake level plan, 247.3 feet was considered flood stage, which he said they will likely reach soon. With Plan 2014 in place, the lake levels must reach 248 feet before the International Joint Commission will take action to lower them.

“According to the Army Corps and their wet spring forecast, we should get to just under 248 in terms of level,” McDowell said. “And the Plan 2014 triggers at this time of year are all greater than 248, so the first year of Plan 2014 is going to cause tons and tons of erosion damage.

“It’s also likely to cause lots of economic damage to Wayne County, and probably all of the south shore counties, because people won’t open their cottages and people won’t come put their boats in the water.”

McDowell noted that the levels traditionally continue to rise over the next 60 days, and he doesn’t see any reason to expect otherwise this year.

“People need to understand that – just because the water is high – it doesn’t mean that it is brimming or coming over the banks,” he added. “But if we get wind, it will be a real mess. So it’s really weather-dependent.”

According to Tertinek, the fire department has already been called to several properties to pump out basements or crawl spaces and that water has gone into the shop at Arney’s Marina.

In January, representatives John Katko and Chris Collins wrote a letter to the Trump transition team urging the new administration to overturn Plan 2014. McDowell said that he hasn’t heard anything about that since then and that his efforts to reach out to Katko have been unsuccessful.

“To be quite honest with you, I can’t reach Katko or his office, anywhere,” McDowell said. “I have tried for the last two months and, as far as I’m concerned, he has abandoned us.”