Cuomo again blasts IJC, says they 'pulled the trigger too late' to avoid flooding
GREECE, N.Y. (AP) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo is again blasting the U.S.-Canadian panel that controls the outflow of water from Lake Ontario, saying the agency bears much of the blame for flooding in New York's lakeside communities.
The Democrat, speaking during the first of two news conferences scheduled in the Rochester area and Wayne County Tuesday, says that the International Joint Commission "pulled the trigger too late" on increasing the flow of water from the lake into the St. Lawrence River. The lake and river levels are controlled partly by releases from a hydropower dam on the river.
"Nobody is saying, you know, aliens came down and brought the water," Cuomo said. "It was Mother Nature, we get it. It was the rain, but you knew during the winter that the lake was high. You knew before the April rains that the lake was high.
"I believe - I shall repeat the quote that they hate - 'They blew it' because they didn't release the amount of water when they could."
SEE ALSO | IJC to increase outflow from Lake Ontario
Cuomo spoke in Monroe County and Wayne County, both of which have seen some of the worst damage from flooding that began earlier this spring during heavy rains.
Some lakeside residents and local officials have blamed the flooding on the international board that governs outflows from Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River. During a visit in Greece last month Cuomo joined them in criticizing the IJC, saying New York residents "are getting the short end of the stick."
At the time, the IJC released the following statement in response to the governor's comments:
The devastating flooding and erosion in the United States and Canada could not have been prevented by lake level regulation. No conceivable action this year could have made more than an inch or two of difference on Lake Ontario without increasing downstream flooding by one or more feet, or potentially causing ice jams that would have resulted in even higher Lake Ontario water levels.
CNYCentral has reached out to the IJC for comment on the governor's latest remarks.
In the meantime, Cuomo said that a temporary emergency barrier system using water-filled dams instead of sandbags is being deployed in Greece and Sodus Point to address the flooding. He says the two communities will also get $500,000 each to repair and upgrade flood-impacted wastewater infrastructure.
The Democrat says he has also renewed a request to the Army Corps of Engineers for rock structures to safeguard flood-prone areas.
Cuomo previously announced $7 million in state aid to help Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River residents impacted by flooding caused by record rainfall.