State of Emergency Declared in Niagara County

Lake Ontario levels expected to rise this weekend

Tom Puckett
April 20, 2017 - 12:12 pm

Olcott, NY (WBEN) Niagara County will be under a state of emergency this weekend. Leaders say rising lake levels are pushing higher heading into the weekend.

The county has been monitoring the lake level situation since late last week, when Sheriff Jim Voutour and Security Committee Chairman Dave Godfrey asked boaters to observe a 500-foot “no wake zone” off the Lake Ontario shore. Legislators toured sites around Olcott Harbor late Tuesday, and shortly after that, Voutour ordered the Sheriff’s Office helicopter into the air to obtain aerial images of homes and key infrastructure threatened by the rising waters of Lake Ontario.

Legislator Clyde Burmaster says there are high levels of lake water because of an unusually large number of rainstorms that have saturated the area. "The water is at a foot to 19 inches above normal levels," says Burmaster. "All indications are more severe rainstorms are coming, and the lake could crest with another 12 inches above what we currently have." He says there are already serious erosion problems in several communities including Youngstown and Olcott that could lead to serious property damage.

Undersheriff Michael Filicetti says the 500 foot no wake zone will continue because docks are under water and there could be floating objects along the shoreline. "We found several trouble spots where we took video from the air. We're worried about people getting too close to the shoreline. We don't want anyone getting hurt," says Filicetti. He says precautions are being taken now. "We'll assist our partners any way we can. If it means we have our inmates fill sandbags, that's what we'll do."

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