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Seneca, Keuka Lake levels start to recede

FINGER LAKES—Seneca and Keuka Lake levels are finally on the decline, after reaching their highest points for 2011 last week.
The storms and rainy weather from the last two weeks caused high saturation rates in the soil, meaning there was more water in the lakes.  While it wasn’t at flooding levels, the water rose high enough to cover some docks on the lakes.
Seneca Lake was as high as 447.6. The ideal maximum level for this time of year is 446.3.
Keuka Lake’s water level reached 714.7 last week.  The desired maximum level is 714.2 feet.
Brian Gardner, deputy director of Schuyler County Emergency Management Services, said there were no real reports of flooding or water getting to houses.  The lake water did go over the bank in Watkins Glen, just northeast of Clute Park.  Gardner said the only reports the county got were docks being flooded.  He added lake shore areas with the lowest slopes are the most susceptible to flooding.
Gardner said the historic high for Seneca Lake’s level was 448.5 feet in 1995.  That is over the minor flood damage level of 447.8 feet.  However, Gardner said residents would experience a lot of problems before it got to the “minor” stage.
In case of an emergency, the department had sandbags ready.  Gardner said there’s nothing they can do to stop the lake from rising.  He added the county can at least try to keep the water out of people’s houses.
Diane Caves, deputy director of Yates County Emergency Management, said the areas that experienced the most trouble were the spots most damaged by the rain April 26: Middlesex.  After the storm, the town supervisor declared a state of emergency.  Residents in the Vine Valley and South Lake Road area were evacuated and the Red Cross offered help.
She added people in Himrod got sandbags.  Caves explained the emergency management office has sandbags, but people need to request them through their fire department.  She said the only other concern right now is the debris still in the lake.  Caves explained the water washed branches and other debris into the lake.




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