I have lived in the town of Wilson for about 40 years. My home is on the west branch of Twelve Mile Creek, which drains into Lake Ontario. Up until about 2014, I was never in a flood zone and never had flood water on my lawn or under my home.
The light should have come on when the flood zone was changed. I should have realized that the higher highs and lower lows were cover for bend-over-and-put-your-waders-on. It’s how government surprises us. Just when things are going fine, genius pokes its ugly head out of someone’s rump and here we are, an excuse to make some rich guy richer, i.e. the shipping industry and pump suppliers.
I had worked for federal disaster services for 20 years when I saw the flood zone change. I simply guessed God was giving me a hint: What goes around comes around.
Between climate change bringing more precipitation to the Great Lakes basin and the apparent worry of the International Joint Commission regarding shipping versus the Lake Ontario homeowners, it would seem we’re between a rock and a hard place!
When is the last time anyone saw a lake freighter on the lake? It appears to me that the IJC is beholden to the ocean-going shipping industry. Think how much money is being saved, using these large ships and not having to transfer their loads to lake freighters that require a deeper draft than lake boats.
My question is: why doesn’t the shipping industry take the hit by reducing the ships' operating schedules and running additional ships? Take two months or 60 days off ships using the St. Lawrence. Either that or lighten the loads and use less draft.
There has to be a balance point between the shipping industry and the homeowners. Lake Ontario homeowners are no less happy about this situation than the shipping industry is. However, we were here first.
People say, well, all of the lakes are high, due to climate change. Yup, I’ll grant you that. However, Ontario is the only one that can be somewhat controlled, if the IJC does all it can.
We property owners are looking towards our leaders to help alleviate this situation.
How can this be done if push comes to shove?
The United States, New York State, Canada and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and the hydroelectric and shipping industries need to step up and do something. Elevate properties where possible and agree to buyouts where needed.
The cost of buyouts is being eaten by the Canadian and Ontario provincial governments as I understand it (where they're necessary).
Getting our federal government to do anything is rather difficult at this time. Don’t take my word for it, ask our fellow American citizens in Puerto Rico.
KENNETH HOFFMAN, Wilson