Flooding in Fair Haven: State sending sandbag machine, National Guard as water rises
New York state officials are sending additional resources to the village of Fair Haven as flooding and rising lake levels become more of a concern. The state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will deliver a new sandbagging machine, 10,000 more sandbags and a National Guard unit will be deployed to help fill the bags. The sandbagging machine and additional sandbags will be delivered to Fair Haven Tuesday. The National Guard unit will arrive no later than Wednesday.
Fair Haven had a sandbagger until late last week when the state moved the machine to Jefferson County, which had a more immediate need. Before the sandbagger was relocated, the village built a stockpile of 10,000 sandbags. With the machine gone and water levels rising over the weekend, the number of available sandbags quickly went from 10,000 to 2,000. Residents picked up the sandbags at the village hall for use on their own properties. Kristin Devoe, a spokesperson for the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, said the state purchased more sandbagging machines so that each of the eight counties along Lake Ontario will have one to response to flooding.
“At the direction of Governor Cuomo, New York state has launched a full scale response to the flooding along the Lake Ontario coast,” Devoe said. “Right now, the primary focus must be on keeping residents safe and ensuring everyone has access to critical resources. Once the flooding subsides and our recovery operations begin, we will be able to assess the overall impacts to communities in the region.”
The decision to purchase more sandbagging machines was made weeks ago when state officials recognized that the rising lake levels would pose long-term challenges. While Fair Haven is experiencing some flooding, the rising water has had a bigger impact on other communities along the lake, such as Sodus Point in Wayne County. Fair Haven Mayor Jim Basile lauded the state for its support and being attentive to the village’s needs. He said the sandbagging machine and the National Guard unit will help the village rebuild its stock of sandbags to respond to the flooding. According to Basile’s tally, water levels in the village have risen five or six inches over the last eight days. He estimated that the levels are now more than a foot above base flood elevation.
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The flooding problems won’t be resolved until the release of water from the Moses-Saunders Dam near Massena, which is used to regulate the lake and St. Lawrence River.
“There’s no light at the end of the tunnel,” Basile said. As the weather improves, one of the village’s concerns is the impact on local businesses. Basile said some of the marinas are being overwhelmed by the water and it’s limiting operations. For now, businesses are still open. A couple of streets are being monitored and could be closed if water levels continue to rise.
The village’s boat launches and West Barrier Bar Park remain closed.
“The general village activity is like it would be any other day,” Basile said. “Unfortunately, the bay is not the playground it normally is at this time of year.”