U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer released the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Jane L. Corwin as the next U.S. chairwoman of the IJC, and Robert C. Sisson and Lance V. Yohe as commissioners of the IJC:
“With Lake Ontario’s high water levels continuing to rise and a repeat of 2017’s historic Lake Ontario flooding looking more possible by the day, ensuring that the International Joint Commission—which plays a paramount role in setting Lake Ontario’s water levels—is fully staffed and fully functional couldn’t be more important. The filling of all three U.S. seats on the IJC is a major step in the right direction and will help prepare New York State for the absolute worst. I was proud to support the confirmation of these nominees to the IJC and look forward to working in lockstep with them to shield Lake Ontario communities from more devastating flooding. I now urge Canada to now do its part to nominate and pass the Canadian IJC members so the Commission can meet a quorum,” said Senator Schumer.
Schumer has been pushing emergency preparation measures along Lake Ontario for months in this specific flooding season and for years beforehand. In March of this year, Schumer voiced his support for the confirmation of Jane L. Corwin, Robert C. Sisson and Lance V. Yohe to the IJC, to ensure the Commission was appropriately staffed to address the rising Lake Ontario water levels. Additionally, Schumer called on the International Joint Commission (IJC) and International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board of Control to assess and take all actions possible to mitigate flood risks to surrounding communities, including the appropriate maximization of outflows at the Moses-Saunders Dam. Earlier this month, Schumer announced that following his push, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued an official Declaration of Emergency to activate its Emergency Operations Center to join with state and local efforts to assist Lake Ontario communities in the event of flooding.
Furthermore, Schumer explained, in 2017, many communities along the southern shore of Lake Ontario suffered significant flooding and related property damage, economic dislocation and significant negative impacts on quality of life. Prior to the flooding, Schumer successfully called on the USACE to activate its Emergency Operations Center, allowing the USACE to assist New York State in response efforts and deploy technical assistance teams. Additionally, Schumer helped facilitate a “General Permit”, signed by the USACE and NYSDEC in 2017, as well. Schumer also played a paramount role in securing aid for these communities in the wake of the flooding, including arranging for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deploy two expert federal mitigation teams to Lake Ontario communities to help address the flooding issues and successfully pushing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to issue a major disaster declaration, which enabled federal recovery and repair funding to flow to Jefferson, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Wayne, Cayuga, and Monroe Counties.