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New York Military Forces respond to Lake Ontario Flooding

New York Military Forces respond to Lake Ontario Flooding

Story by Eric Durr on 06/28/2019

ROCHESTER, N.Y.–As water levels in Lake Ontario reached more than 2 feet higher than normal on June 16, the New York National Guard and New York’s state military forces had 453 personnel focused on flood control issues around the lake shore.

This included 422 personnel working directly on shore line issue and 29 personnel involved in support for the mission.

Along with 262 National Guard Soldiers and 57 National Guard Airmen, there were 80 members of the New York Naval Militia on the mission and 54 members of the New York Guard, the state’s volunteer defense force.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo had initially ordered 100 troops to state active duty on May 4, 2019 as high rains started water levels in Lake Ontario to increase.

By the end of June, though, with most mission requirements met, Joint Task Force Ontario began the process of downsizing to a force of 150 personnel.

High water levels in streams in Ontario and Quebec initially limited the amount of water that could be discharged through the Moses-Sanders Dam at Massena, N.Y. into the St. Lawrence River. The Canadian-US International Joint Commission, which controls water levels in the Great Lakes, has increased the flow of water out of the lake system to deal with high water levels.

The New York troops have been involved in filling sandbags for emplacement by other agencies and property owners and have also been emplacing sandbags when necessary.

Other state and local government agencies are also making and filling sandbags.

Between May 4 and June 27 Joint Task Force Ontario personnel had filled 442,154 sandbags and emplaced 538,653.

The task force personnel also emplaced 15,039 feet of a water filled barrier called an Aquadam, designed to hold back water.

New York Military Forces personnel had conducted 233 sandbag missions and 55 Aquadam missions as of June 27.

Each sandbag takes about 30 pounds of sand. The bags are stacked in layers with plastic sheeting to form a barrier to keep out water.

It takes about 540 sandbags to create a water resistant wall 30 feet long and three feet high.

At its peak, Joint Task Force Ontario was configured into 23 strike teams using 72 rental vehicles and 12 military vehicles.

The teams worked out of armories in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Fort Drum and at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

The New York Naval Militia, whose members serve in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Reserve and volunteer for state active duty missions in addition to federal service, briefly deployed two patrol boats to the Lake Ontario in support of the mission there.

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