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Governor declares state of emergency in counties along Lake Ontario as flooding begins

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While in Rochester Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency in Oswego, Jefferson, Cayuga, Wayne and other counties along Lake Ontario in response to flooding in shoreline communities. The lake has reached its highest level in 20 years.

Powerful winds and thunderstorms are mixing with the high water levels in Lake Ontario to wreak havoc on homeowners along the shoreline. It's prompting New York state to declare a state of emergency for Oswego, Jefferson, Cayuga and other counties along Lake Ontario.

At the Chaumont Volunteer Fire Department in Jefferson County, First Assistant Chief Stephen Cornell says the flooding from this weekend's storm is the worst the village has seen in 30 years.

"We're filling sandbags and as needed we're placing sand bags creating walls we do have at least one pump right now," Cornell said. 

Several communities along Lake Ontario are experiencing flooding as Lake Ontario has reached its highest level in 20 years. The National Weather Service is warning of more lakeshore flooding in Jefferson and Oswego counties through this afternoon.

National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Kelly says this flooding will likely continue because the lake's water levels are expected to continue to rise over the coming months.

"With the storms and the strong winds it does pile the water up," Kelly said. "It's kind of a similar to but on a very very much smaller scale a hurricane with the piling up of the water."

New York state has recently delivered thousands of sandbags to protect homeowners in Jefferson, Oswego and other counties along Lake Ontario. And on Tuesday, the governor announced that the state is opening a Lake Ontario assistance hotline (866-244-3839) so residents can find out about flooding forecasts and get help with mitigation efforts like sandbags. 

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.