N.Y. towns fear impact of Lake Ontario flooding

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Flooded boat shelter at Wilson Yacht Club. Image: Angelica A. MorrisonBy Angelica A. Morrison and Veronica Volk

As heavy rains continued along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, residents and government officials are growing concerned about waves that are eroding lakefront properties. They’re also worried about damage to local utilities.

Niagara County legislator David Godfrey, who lives in Wilson, at the western end of the lake, says his property line has seen severe erosion.

“All that bank has slid away. I’ve probably lost two to three feet that just slid into the lake,” Godfrey said from his backyard, which sits above the lake.

Pointing to a tree lying near the water, he added, “That tree right there used to be up top in the fall. … Montreal is going to have my land in a few weeks.”

In Newfane, Town Supervisor Timothy Horanburg says he doesn’t have an exact dollar amount on the damage, but calls it substantial.

“Right now we’re seeing erosion, we’re seeing some pretty hefty erosion of the yacht club, we’re seeing some flooding of low-lying homes,” he says.

He has another concern, saying, “And our sewer system has taken a licking there.”

Farther east, near Rochester, Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich told WXXI that a major concern is the sanitary sewer system, which is beyond capacity.

“What we have is water running out of many manholes and we’re alternating our pumps so that we can continue to keep the system running,” he says. Reilich is worried about a system failure, “which would eliminate the possibility of anyone discharging any water from their home.”

Reilich says he saw a manhole cover fluttering up and down because of the flooding.

Those manhole covers are being blocked off to avoid injuries to motorists and pedestrians in the area, he says.

If the sewer system goes down, Reilich says it would not only impact homes on the lakefront, but other systems that feed into it, so residents south of the lake also could be affected.

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