Fair Haven Flooding 7.JPG

Flood waters continue to rise along the shoreline of Little Sodus Bay in Fair Haven.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday declared a state of emergency for eight counties, including Cayuga, affected by Lake Ontario flooding. 

The state of emergency will allow New York officials to expedite the purchase of aqua dams, temporary dams that can protect the shoreline, and helps with the deployment of resources on private property. 

With water levels continuing to rise, the state is preparing for a repeat of the 2017 floods along Lake Ontario. 

"The flooding will come where the flooding came (two years ago)," Cuomo said. "Once the flooding happens, it is too late to put precautions in place." 

The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board reported Sunday that lake levels were 248.59 feet, which is more than two feet above its historical average for this time of year. The board said Monday that it will increase outflows from the Moses-Saunders Dam to balance high water levels causing flooding along the lake and river. 

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The state has sent more than 1 million empty sandbags and 560,000 filled sandbags to the eight counties — Niagara, Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga, Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence — affected by rising water levels. Other equipment deployed to the counties includes more than 5,000 feet of aqua dam, hundreds of pumps and 20 sandbagging machines. 

Cayuga County issued a state of emergency earlier this month. High water levels are affecting the village of Fair Haven and town of Sterling. 

Cuomo also announced that there will be a 5 mph speed limit for vessels within 1,000 feet of the Lake Ontario shoreline. Local governments have the option of lowering the speed limit. The purpose of the no-wake zone is to limit the effect of waves on shoreline infrastructure and property. 

Conditions aren't expected to improve anytime soon. Water levels will continue to rise and a lakeshore flood warning is in effect for northern Cayuga, Oswego and Wayne counties. The warning will be in place from 5 p.m. Monday to 11 a.m. Tuesday. 

"I hope for the best, but we have to prepare for the worst," Cuomo said. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


Online producer and politics reporter

I have been The Citizen's online producer and politics reporter since December 2009. I'm the author of the Eye on NY blog and write the weekly Eye on NY column that appears every Sunday in the print edition of The Citizen and online at auburnpub.com.