Congressman Chris Collins tours Lake Ontario shoreline in Hamlin

By on June 5, 2017
Congressman Chris Collins speaks with the media while touring the Lake Ontario shoreline devastation/flooding in Hamlin May 30.  Hamlin Supervisor Eric Peters and Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo stand behind the Congressman. K. Gabalski photo

Congressman Chris Collins speaks with the media while touring the Lake Ontario shoreline devastation/flooding in Hamlin May 30. Hamlin Supervisor Eric Peters and Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo stand behind the Congressman. K. Gabalski photo

Saying high lake levels which continue to eat up the Lake Ontario shoreline are, “just a sign of more to come … until we get rid of Plan 2014,” Congressman Chris Collins toured the lakeshore along Sandy Harbor Drive in the Town of Hamlin Tuesday morning, May 30, speaking with homeowners, businesses and Hamlin leaders.

“We’ve got to get rid of Plan 2014,” Collins said. He said the result of Plan 2014 – developed and implemented by the International Joint Commission (IJC) – “is that this disaster is upon us and there is no easy solution.”

He noted Plan 2014 is now the law of the land, and thus difficult to repeal.

Collins said he and Congressman John Katko need the support of Governor Cuomo, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to put pressure on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to change Canada’s three representatives on the IJC.

Currently, the IJC consists of three American and three Canadian representatives who Collins called, “environmentalists who care more about cattails and beavers than the western New York economy and homeowners.”  Changing those representatives may be the only way to repeal Plan 2014, he explained.

He said with additional support, leaders in the U.S. and Canada might be moved to make a change in the makeup of IJC representatives.  “It could get done with support and a united front,” Collins said.

Congressman Collins began the fight against Plan 2014 back in 2013 when he toured harbors in Niagara County with state and local elected officials.

While in Hamlin on May 30, he criticized Governor Cuomo, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for their inaction to stop Plan 2014 before it became law.

“It could have been stopped,” Congressman Collins said.  “We predicted this and here it is. I feel bad for the towns and homeowners who this is their life … This is a deliberate man-made decision.”

The unusually wet spring has not helped the situation, Collins said.  “Mother nature has played a roll,” but he called arguments made by hydrologists that the high water levels are solely the result of heavy rains, “ridiculous … if you raise the lake levels like Plan 2014 did, you get devastation.  They got caught in their level of incompetence.”

Congressman Collins said he does not believe there is any legal recourse for homeowners who have suffered property damage and loss due to the Plan 2014 lake levels.  The IJC had pledged to compensate homeowners who suffered damage due to changes in lake levels, but the IJC has no money to live up to that pledge, Collins explained.

He said the damage to property will result in lower property values. “That puts an extra tax burden on the rest of the property owners in Niagara, Orleans, Monroe and Wayne Counties.”

Continued flooding is evident along Sandy Harbor Drive in the Town of Hamlin, Tuesday, May 30. Hamlin Supervisor Eric Peters gave Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and U.S. Congressman Chris Collins a tour of the area which included speaking with residents along the shoreline. Supervisor Peters said boating/fishing related businesses along the lake have not been able to open this year. K. Gabalski photo

Continued flooding is evident along Sandy Harbor Drive in the Town of Hamlin, Tuesday, May 30. Hamlin Supervisor Eric Peters gave Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and U.S. Congressman Chris Collins a tour of the area which included speaking with residents along the shoreline. Supervisor Peters said boating/fishing related businesses along the lake have not been able to open this year. K. Gabalski photo

Hamlin Supervisor Eric Peters said he was glad to have Congressman Collins and Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo come to Hamlin to see first-hand what the town and lakeshore residents are experiencing. “I’m grateful for the show of support,” he said.  “I’m glad they are taking an interest in our community.”

Supervisor Peters said residents continue to use sandbags to try to protect what property they can. He said the high water levels have also devastated local businesses including the Yacht Club which, “is out of business for the season … there is a marina on the other side of the Parkway which can’t open because its docks are underwater.”  Fishing charters and fisheries are also being hard hit and Peters says he wonders how the businesses will survive in the future after, “a year of nothing.”

He said much money has already been spent fighting the high water levels and there, “is no indication it will get recouped.”

Governor Cuomo, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Senator Charles Schumer responded to Collins’ comments via the media on Tuesday, May 30.  Media reports said Senator Schumer stated he is working to obtain all available resources for those affected by flooding and damage from high lake levels.

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter called Collins’ comments, “playing politics,” and said water levels are due to extraordinary rainfall, melting snow and the fact that Lake Ontario acts as a drain lake.

Governor Cuomo’s office stated his administration has provided New Yorkers along the Lake Ontario shoreline with 1.5 million sandbags, hundreds of pumps and $22 million in financial assistance.

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