FAIR HAVEN — As Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul surveyed the flooding along Little Sodus Bay Monday, she was approached by a homeowner who's been impacted by the rising water levels. 

Peter Klein has a home on Lake Street in Fair Haven. The property is in a low-lying area along the shoreline, which made it vulnerable to flooding when Lake Ontario reached its highest recorded levels. 

Klein's home looks like a makeshift fort. He said there are 4,000 sandbags protecting the structure from the rising water. Outside the property, his dock is submerged. 

That was just one example of the flooding Fair Haven — and other communities along Lake Ontario — is experiencing. 

Hochul's visit served another purpose: To announce a new $10 million grant program to assist municipalities with repairs to surface infrastructure, like roads and sidewalks, and water systems. Counties identified in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's state of emergency issued earlier this month will be eligible for the funding. 

Cayuga County is among the municipalities covered by the emergency declaration. 

"We're very concerned," Hochul said. 

The grant program is one way the state is assisting those affected by flooding. The National Guard has been deployed to assist with sandbagging operations. In Fair Haven Monday, a unit from New York City filled more than 2,000 sandbags as of 2 p.m. 

Register for more free articles
Stay logged in to skip the surveys

A mobile command center, with representatives from the state Department of Financial Services, was stationed at Fair Haven Village Hall to assist residents with insurance claims. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is expediting the permitting process to help property owners address shoreline erosion and damaged breakwalls. 

Last week, the state sent a new sandbagger and 10,000 sandbags to Fair Haven to help with the response. 

The flooding stems from water levels that rapidly increased since the beginning of April. The joint U.S.-Canada board which manages water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River announced last week that the lake has reached its highest recorded level ever. It's more than 33 inches higher than it was this time last year. 

Excessive rainfall hasn't helped and wind shifts send more water into Little Sodus Bay. 

Hochul referred to the flooding as a "sustained event." She said it's unlike other natural disasters because no one is sure when it will end.

"Given that it takes about eight days for a quarter of an inch to go down under normal circumstances, this could be what we're facing for much of the summer," she said. 

Fair Haven Mayor Jim Basile thanked Hochul and state officials for the support over the last month. He choked up when discussing the help the village has received, especially from its volunteer fire department. 

"It's been tough, folks," he said. "It's a long-term problem." 

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

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