By Luciano Vera, USACEMay 18, 2017
BUFFALO, New York - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District, technical field teams have visited 13 Lake Ontario coast sites in response to emergency flood efforts. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo formally requested Corps of Engineers assistance on May 9 and initiated additional interagency coordination to supplement the state's emergency response to record water levels.
"The Corps of Engineers responded quickly and we will continue to deploy our technical teams throughout this ongoing emergency," said Lt. Col. Adam Czekanski, USACE Buffalo District Commander. "The site visits have allowed our teams to assess conditions first hand and provide recommendations in support of state and local efforts."
Teams work with local and county emergency management personnel at each location to assess the impacts of flooding on infrastructure and the effectiveness of current flood mitigation measures.
A team of five deployed to the Village of Sodus Point in Wayne County, New York where flooding and erosion is a major issue.
"One of the bluffs near a sewer outlet had severe erosion and the town placed small stones and broken concrete to try and support the area," said Shanon Chader, USACE Buffalo District Coastal/Geotech Team Chief. "Our team recommended shorter term fixes by placing geotextile material, larger stones and creating gentler slopes." Implementing the recommendations would help absorb the impact from the waves and limit future erosion added Chader.
Village of Sodus Point Mayor Chris Tertinek said, "We appreciated the team coming out, speaking with us and providing an assessment on shore protections." Tertinek also said the Corps of Engineers team provided training on appropriate sandbag placement techniques.
"The feedback we are getting from the local agencies and the public is very positive and they appreciate the in-person engagements and assessments," said Chader. "Most residents want to be heard and we are the face of the Army Corps of Engineers when we travel to these sites."
Each team consists of regulatory staff, hydraulic and hydrology engineers, geotechnical engineers, coastal engineers, and operation and technical service personnel.
A second team deployed to the town of Lyme in Jefferson County, New York where Corps officials suggested removing unsecured large wood debris in order to minimize impact erosion on the saturated shoreline. "The debris is pushed by wave energy, impacts the shoreline, and contributes to erosion. This was evident at several locations," said Chader.
The Corps of Engineers also supplemented Jefferson County with 130,000 sandbags and provided recommendations on how to properly fill and place sand bags for maximum protection.
"We needed more sandbags and sent up a request through the state and the Army Corps of Engineers responded rapidly. The coordination at all levels has been seamless," said Joseph Plummer, Emergency Manager Region IV, Central New York District. "This situation is not ending in the near future so it is good to know we have partners at the State level and the Army Corps of Engineers in the area."
USACE Buffalo District is working directly with the New York State Office of Emergency Management and its Regional Directors.
"The importance of working with NYS OEM and its regions is to ensure that we are supplementing state efforts, and not overreaching our authorities under Public Law 84-99," said Phillip Stitzinger, Buffalo District Emergency Manager. "New York State has done a very good job augmenting its affected counties, and providing Corps of Engineers Technical Assistance Field Teams with information on affected sites." Individual homeowners and business owners should first contact their local municipalities to report damages, flooding, or erosion concerns added Stitzinger.
The Corps of Engineers has provided an additional 50,000 sandbags requested by other affected counties and Buffalo District regulatory team members have supplemented the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation with field visits to affected areas offering information on permit options.
"Technical assistance is the most immediate support we can offer, while we continue to work with the State to determine where advance measures are appropriate," said Czekanski. "It's been a great team effort overall and the Corps of Engineers is committed to continuing to help in any way possible."