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High-Water Events

In recent years, Monroe County experienced multiple flood events causing significant damage in coastal communities. These events track from a history of flooding in the region but mark a unique trend toward future frequency and intensity of storms with coastal flooding and shoreline erosion.

Flood timeline.PNG

2017 High-Water Event

In April and May of 2017, Lake Ontario’s water levels rose 30 inches, reaching a high of 248.72 feet (a record high at the time). The high lake level and wind-driven waves caused widespread damage to properties, homes, and businesses across Monroe County. The Towns of Hamlin, Parma, Greece, Irondequoit and Webster and the City of Rochester were hit the hardest. Governor Cuomo appointed a Lake Ontario response team (comprised of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, DEC, New York State Police, the National Guard, and the Department of Homeland Security) to assist with coordinating a response to the flooding in Monroe County and the City of Rochester. In addition, a variety of State equipment was brought in including hoses, pumping equipment, zodiac boats, and generators. On November 14, 2017, the President officially declared the flood events a major disaster (FEMA-4348-DR-NY).

2019 High-Water Event

In 2019, high winds caused waves to break over the top of protective barriers, resulting again in widespread property damage and impacting homes and businesses. Many shoreline communities received assistance from municipalities and the National Guard to construct temporary flood mitigation measures such as aquadams and sandbag walls. Governor Cuomo declared a State of Emergency for lakeshore communities, including those in Monroe County, on May 20, 2019 extending until May 20, 2020. Water levels on Lake Ontario rose to approximately 249 feet, surpassing the levels from the 2017 flood events. Damage to the fragile lakefront ecosystem were observed as high waters revealed trash, chemicals, and contaminants. High waters also impacted plants and small animal habitats and killed upland trees and shrubs.

Past Flooding

In addition to the 2017 and 2019 high water events, Monroe County has had multiple historic flood events that also warranted disaster declarations. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 4 flood-related federal disaster declarations have occurred in Monroe County since 1953, with New York State having 21. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes brought weather systems producing widespread damage across the eastern United States. Floods associated with the storm washed out bridges and roadways in Monroe County (DR-338). In the spring of 1973, another flood disaster was declared along the Lake Ontario shoreline when lake levels rose to 249.6 feet as a result of record rainfall in 1972. The flooding caused extensive property damage, destruction of roads, public utility interruption, and contamination of local water supplies (DR-367). In January 1998, excessive rain caused rivers and creeks to reach high levels and crest, causing widespread damage. Multiple water emergencies were declared as municipal wastewater treatment plants were overwhelmed (DR-1196). Between June 25 and July 10, 1998, severe thunderstorms brought heavy rain resulting in excessive property damage in communities across Monroe County (DR-1233). Between August and September 2004, Hurricane Frances and related storms produced large amounts of rainfall in a short period of time, causing creeks and the Erie Canal to flood. Homes and businesses were evacuated, and evacuees were housed at the Red Cross and local shelters (DR-1564).

Edgemere Drive Drone Footage (September 2019)
Braddock Bay Drone Footage (September 2019)
Northern Irondequoit Bay Drone Footage (September 2019)
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