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Niagara County to declare state of emergency over lake level

Niagara County Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, points to a nearly-submerged pier in Olcott as Town Supervisor Tim Horanburg, R-Newfane, and County Director of Emergency Services Jonathan Schultz look on late Tuesday during a tour of sites in immediate danger of flooding from rising lake levels. Government officials will declare of a state of emergency this afternoon in response to the rising lake levels. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

STAFF REPORTSnews@allwnynews.com

OLCOTT -- Niagara County government officials will be joined by federal, state and town officials at 2 p.m. today to declare a State of Emergency in Niagara County as rising lake levels are pushed higher heading into the weekend.

The 2 p.m. announcement will include information about preparation for anticipated flooding along the Lake Ontario shore and a briefing and Q&A with public safety officials including County Manager Rick Updegrove, Sheriff James R. Voutour, and Director of Emergency Services Jonathan Schultz.

Legislature Vice Chairman Clyde L. Burmaster, R-Ransomville, Infrastructure and Facilities Committee Chairman John Syracuse, R-Newfane, and Community Safety and Security Committee Chairman Dave Godfrey, R-Wilson, will also be on-hand.

The county has been monitoring the lake level situation since late last week, when Voutour and Godfrey asked boaters to observe a 500-foot “no wake zone” off the Lake Ontario shore. Syracuse and Schultz joined Supervisor Tim Horanburg, R-Newfane, touring sites around Olcott Harbor late Tuesday, and shortly after that, Voutour ordered the Sheriff’s Office helicopter into the air to obtain aerial images of homes and key infrastructure threatened by the rising waters of Lake Ontario.

Public safety officials decided to begin preparations for a likely declaration of a State of Emergency at a 3 p.m. Wednesday meeting at the Niagara County Public Safety Training Facility, and Updegrove announced plans to hold today’s 2 p.m. press conference this morning.

In addition to county leadership, town supervisors and state and federal leaders will be on-hand at today’s press conference.