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Businesses, homeowners struggle with what comes next as Lake Ontario continues to flood

On Thursday Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul toured Sodus Point.

On the same day New York State Senate and Assembly leadership held a press conference in Wayne County announcing emergency funding for those residents impacted by the shoreline flooding.

Homes are being flooded, businesses are being forced to remain closed — or operate very minimally — and the shoreline is being devastated.

Homes that were previously 20 or 30 feet away from the “coastline” are now a yard or two away from being overtaken by Lake Ontario.

The forecast is slightly more optimistic than it was a week ago. However, the American Red Cross Chapter here in the Finger Lakes is preparing for a long-term battle.

In an exclusive conversation earlier this week, executive leadership of the Finger Lakes Chapter told FL1 News that they were preparing for potential flood problems — the kind that could prompt evacuations this summer.

While the flooding came sooner than expected, it has put a strain on everyone — including the organizations tasked with helping.

The legislation proposed on Thursday would provide funding for those homeowners who live by the state. However, local elected officials were uncertain about the future of the legislation.

Even the homes and businesses that haven’t been impacted yet by the flooding are contending with a great deal of stress. “It’s an already short season for us. This is just making it worse,” one business owner said expressing her concerns about the long-term sustainability if higher lake levels will be the norm.

While some along the lake have blamed Plan 2014, officials with the International Joint Commission say that plays almost no role in the water rise. At least the extreme levels of water rise that have been seen as of late.

If Plan 2014 didn’t exist the water level would only be an inch or two lower. And the flooding situation has actually been worse in Canada with hundreds of homes being evacuated.

As 13WHAM News saw, every business is handling the water differently:

“We’ve all posted on Facebook, saying all the local businesses are open and support them more than ever, and hopefully we can get through this,” Abby Hogan, an operations manager at Captain Jack’s GoodTime Tavern, stated.

For Hogan, social media – and, ironically, the flooding itself – has helped Marlin’s and Captain Jack’s stay busy.
“It does help, people coming down and seeing the water, and, ‘Oh, I can eat here!'” she said.

But for Tim Habecker, the vice president of a boat company, each day of flooding comes with more loss.

“Losing revenue for three weeks now, maybe four, and just getting worse,” he said. “We need the water to go away, and we need the lake level to go down. But as for support from federal agencies, state agencies. I don’t know what they can do besides pay my bills. We’re gonna run out of work and we’re gonna run out of customers.”

While some businesses are managing to stay afloat, many others are still concerned that, with each day, the lake levels rise, and there’s no telling when that will stop.

Read more from 13WHAM.com

The real question is what’s ‘next’ for homeowners?

Will there be money available for these individuals? What about the businesses? What about the property owners losing actual property as the shoreline is eroded away?

In the course of 30 days, one resident who had shoreline property has gone from a home with a back yard, deck, and lake view — has come to teetering on the edge.

It all could be gone tomorrow.

Assessment officials will have to scramble after the erosion slows to determine what these properties are worth after. It could be that some of the properties are significantly less valuable due to the loss of land and whatever structures stood in the way of Lake Ontario.

Even as legislators look at ways to ease the burden, it’s hard to tell at this point what the true scope, or cost associated with this flooding will be in six months from now.

It’s something that puts the homeowner or business owner — in a particularly dreary spot.

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