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New York Guard putting more troops on flood control duty

By Eric Durr | New York National Guard | May 12, 2019

SODUS POINT, N.Y. – A week after deploying 130 troops to help control flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline, the New York National Guard was preparing to bring on an additional 100 personnel by Monday.

Heavy rains throughout the Great Lakes region, combined with flooding rivers in Ontario and Quebec, have resulted in Lake Ontario water levels that are two feet higher than average, according to the International Joint Commission.

The commission regulates water levels in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

The higher water levels increase the danger of flooding to buildings along with the lake and shorefront erosion.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo activated 100 members of the New York Military Forces – which includes the New York Army and Air National Guard, along with the New York Naval Militia and New York Guard state defense force—to assist in the response.

The state response included 800,000 sandbags, 15 sandbag-making machines, hundreds of pumps and 920 feet of Aquadam—a water containment system that employs a rubberized tube filled with water – distributed in the eight counties along Lake Ontario.

On May 10, the governor announced that he was increasing the New York Military Forces commitment to 200 troops as water levels in the lake continued to rise and bad weather meant increased wave activity.

Along with more National Guard forces, the state deployed three more sandbagging machines, 500,000 more sandbags, and additional Aquadam systems – totaling 3,200 feet—to the region.

The governor urged lakefront communities to identify areas where state assets should be used.

"We're going to call up another 100 National Guard today. So we have National Guard, we have Aquadam, we have sandbags, we have pumps, we have people deployed. But we need to know where they need to be deployed before the fact," the governor said.

Local officials should take note of where flooding occurred during high water in 2017 and assume the same areas will be impacted, the governor said.

"The National Guard has been doing a great job. We have as many sandbags as you need, we have Aquadam, pumping, and we have the 2017 experience. You know where it's probably going to happen again. Please call now and tell us what you need," the governor said.

In 2017, Lake Ontario Water levels rose to record levels, and the New York National Guard mobilized 400 troops in response during the spring and early summer months.

The lake is still eight inches below that level and is not expected to rise further, according to the International Joint Commission.

As of May 10, the New York National Guard had 131 military personnel with 20 vehicles on duty.

Soldiers were assisting in sandbag operations at Sodus Point, near Rochester; Watertown, where they were filling palletizing sandbags; Clayton on the St. Lawrence River; Sacketts Harbor; and Albion.

One mission involved installing an Aquadam system and sandbagging to protect "Rudy's" a popular restaurant on the lake in Oswego, New York.