WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Veronica Volk

Veronica Volk is the Great Lakes Reporter/Producer for WXXI News, exploring environmental and economic issues, water, and wildlife throughout the region for radio, television, and the web.

Previously, she worked general assignment for the newsroom, covering everything from medical marijuana dispensaries to the photonics industry. She is currently producing and co-hosting a true-crime podcast called Finding Tammy Jo with Gary Craig of the Democrat and Chronicle.

Veronica got her start as an enterprise reporter in the Bronx for WFUV Public Radio, and later became the senior producer of their weekly public affairs show Cityscape. She holds a B.A. in Communication and Media Studies from Fordham University and is originally from the Jersey Shore, which is nothing like how it is portrayed on MTV.

Bill Deasy is stacking sandbags on the edge of his property in Webster, trying to keep the waves of Lake Ontario at bay.

"I hope the lake stays where it is and my house stays here."

So far the water hasn’t come into his home – yet. But the water is expected to continue to rise over the next one to three weeks, and a change in wind direction is all it would take to bring down this wall of sandbags.

"Every day the lake is different – waves, wind…"

Despite the high water, Sodus Point Mayor Dave McDowell says the village is in good shape for the season.

"We were a lot more prepared this year."

McDowell says they learned a lot from 2017 and have been preparing for potential flooding since January.

On Tuesday, high water levels and winds caused flooding on Edgemere Drive in Greece. Though the water has receded, the cleanup continues.

Karen Marsh is wearing pink canvas gloves as she wrestles with debris in her yard on Edgemere Drive.

She says she left her house at 9:30 the morning of the flood, the street was clear.

"Came back an hour and a half later and my entire home had water all the way around it. It’s not something I would want for anyone."

New commissioners with the International Joint Commission were in Greece Tuesday to visit the southern shore of Lake Ontario.

Laura Jacket lives in North Greece, right on the water, and all year she’s been watching the lake climb slowly higher.

"If you go up right now up to Edgemere Drive and Long Pond and Lowden, you’ll cry if you care about it at all. Because the road is shut down and the water is coming through people’s houses and it’s up to my house now on North Drive."

Business along the lake shore are trying to get the word out that they are open for business, despite high water levels.

Allison Mayer is the manager of Mayer's Marina. The business is on Lake Road in Webster, right between the Irondequiot Bay and Lake Ontario. She says they took a hit in the 2017 floods, but also that they were better prepared when the water started to rise this year.

Around Sodus Point you can already see the effects of high water levels. Take Arney’s Marina on the bay -- their service dock is underwater, and a pump runs constantly to keep water out of the building.

Mayor Dave McDowell says they filled hundreds of sandbags Wednesday and are going to start setting them up around the village next week. He's also declaring a state of emergency this week in order to set up equipment like pumps and hoses throughout town.

The south shore of Lake Ontario might become a national marine sanctuary.

Ellen Brody is the Great Lakes regional coordinator for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

"In many ways," she said via phone, "sanctuaries are like national parks in that our mission is to protect a resource."

She said this effort was spearheaded by the counties along the shore of Lake Ontario, which pushed for recognition and protection of the lake’s shipwrecks.

There are 13 other marine sanctuaries in the U.S. – but only one in the Great Lakes.

Marijuana legalization has been left out of the state budget, but advocates say not all hope is lost.

Mary Kruger is the executive director of Roc NORML, an advocacy group fighting for the legalization of marijuana.

"We were obviously disappointed that it was left out of the budget," she said via phone, "because we want legalization to happen as soon as possible."

Sodus Point Mayor Dave McDowell looks out at the breakwall that separates Lake Ontario from Sodus Bay.

"There’s huge holes in it," he says. "There’s big sections that are missing now."

The eastern breakwall has been deteriorating under the stress of lake waves for years. McDowell says if it breaches, houses along the bay will be vulnerable to the full force of the lake.

"Water is one of the most powerful forces of nature. And we can only do so much," McDowell says.

The commission that oversees the Great Lakes still has vacant positions, and Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for congress to vote on current nominees.

The International Joint Commission has been around for more of a century, and this is the second longest time its been unable to function due to empty seats.

U.S. Chair Lana Pollack says it's extremely unusual.

"Oh, it's awful," she said via phone. "And very frustrating."

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