Cuomo: high water levels along Lake Ontario shoreline are the “new normal”

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Residents on Edgemere Drive in Greece, where some of the worst flooding hit this week, and two years ago, are exhausted from sandbagging and fighting the waves. 

Stacey Fantigrossi, whose mother lives along lake says, “Right now, I mean, this is crazy. People shouldn’t live like this. This is nuts.”

Some of these residents received government funding to rebuild after the devastation of 2017. Now that their properties are at risk again, they’re worried. Governor Andrew Cuomo has formed a new commission to rebuild the shoreline so it can withstand severe flooding. 

Part of Cuomo’s plan involves the creation of the Lake Ontario “REDI” or Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative. The council, which will be formed by member’s of Cuomo’s cabinet, will meet with communities that have been impacted by lake flooding, tour the area, and develop ways of redesigning the local waterfront so it can prevent future flooding. They will develop a plan to rebuild, with the focus on protecting private property, public building, beaches, and natural habitats.

But Greece Town Supervisor Bill Reilich says he and his residents need a solution now, not one that might move at a glacial political pace in Albany. 

“I want to make sure our residents don’t have to go through this every two years, so I’m going to continue fighting to change (the International Joint Commission),” says Reilich. 

The Irondequoit Town Supervisor is onboard with Cuomo’s plan. Dave Seeley says in a statement to, “If we don’t rebuild smarter and better, we will be back to square one in the near future.”

Cuomo gave no timeline on when the REDI Commission will get to work, which is not much comfort to homeowners on Edgemere Drive, already in crisis mode. 

“We need a ‘plan 2020’, with hindsight,” says John Basta after an eight-hour day of sandbagging. 

“The summer’s shot. This is going to be a nightmare. The lake levels won’t go down for at least two months at the very least,” said Todd Rotonno, the shoreline creeping ever closer to his home. 

The Governor did make it clear Wednesday that Albany remains committed to responding and doing all they can to aid the efforts along the shoreline until a permanent action plan can be put in place. 

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