NY approves $55 million for Lake Ontario flood aid

Jun 29, 2017

New York's legislative session ended Thursday, as lawmakers approved a $55 million aid package for areas hit by continued flooding along Lake Ontario.

The package, hammered out by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders, makes state grants available to property owners and businesses, as well as localities. 

The measure offers grants between $20,000 to $50,000 to homeowners, businesses, farmers and owners of multiple dwellings, the Buffalo News reported. It also provides $10 million to localities in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and Monroe counties.

In signing the legislation, Cuomo said the package was "very important. I've been up there several times and that situation is difficult and long-term. It's not like a flood where it is several days and it's gone. This has been weeks and weeks and weeks." 

Lake Ontario has swelled from spring rains, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that is the cause of flooding that has continued for about two month.

Some officials, including Cuomo, also blame the International Joint Commission, a U.S./Canada body that controls dams along the border. They say the commission's new plan for controlling lake levels has contributed to the flooding.

In recent weeks, Cuomo and the legislature have been squabbling over aid proposals.

After the legislature approved a $90 million aid package, administration officials said it lacked a funding mechanism and had other technical flaws. They also were concerned about the lack of income eligibility requirements for the state grants.

Cuomo refused to sign that bill, leading to the negotiations with legislative leaders -- and the more modest aid package.