Hundreds of Monroe County homeowners along Lake Ontario continued to feel the effect of waters — already at their highest point in years — crashing over breakwalls and into yards, basements and roadways.
Roughly 20 inches above normal, the lake’s level combined with high winds and more rain Sunday had residents, from Hamlin to Greece, filling sandbags and double-checking their sump pumps to move water out of their basements.
Several homes in Parma and Greece were surrounded by gushing moats of ankle-deep water, leaving homeowners and local leaders worried about property, pets and safety.
"I love living on the lake, but not in the lake," said Sam Schell, a resident of Edgemere Drive in Greece.
Greece police advised motorists to avoid Edgemere Drive on Sunday due to flooding, leaving portions between East Manitou and Lowden Point roads and Island Cottage Road to Dewey Avenue open to local traffic only.
Homeowners on Lakeshore Drive in Greece as well as West Beach Drive, Ampor Beach in Parma, and other areas along the lake on the west side of the county, were left to deal with flooding.
"It is literally hundreds (of residents)," said Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, who spent the day surveying the damage and meeting with residents. "It is up and down the shorelines. People are doing what they can. They are resilient. They’re working with their neighbors, fire departments (and) with the municipalities as well to do the best they can under these circumstances."
She said county officials plan to take images, video and testimony from residents directly to state and federal leaders to press for aid.
The state, she said, has already helped the county and several of the affected towns provide sandbags for residents. Roughly 30,000 sandbags have already been distributed with another 130,000 ready, if needed.
The county on Saturday also advised boaters to use extreme caution when traveling on waters connected to Lake Ontario and to reduce speed to cause no wake within 500 feet of the shore, where floating logs, debris and sunken docks may pose hazards.
"First and foremost, be safe," Dinolfo said. "If you need assistance, call 911. We stand by ready to help. Don't stay in your home if it is not safe to do so, but please reach out for help. We want to make sure everyone is safe throughout this situation."
Firefighters with the Hilton Parma Fire District did respond to a report of an individual who got shocked while trying to piece sandbags on a Lakeshore Drive property in Greece, said Fire Chief Bill Porter.
"All it takes is one spark," he said. "It could be from anything, a submersible pump. Shut off the gas and electric so there's no issue. If you see (water) going into your utilities and stuff, make sure you shut it off, or call 911."
Porter said emergency crews took the individual to the hospital as a precaution. He did not provide further details on that incident, but said another homeowner in Parma had their power turned off to avoid any potential problems.
High water levels have been primarily caused by an abundance of rain in March and April throughout the entire Great Lakes region.
While some control over the lake's level can be exercised at a dam in the St. Lawrence River, those efforts have been complicated by heavy rainfall that's fallen in and around Montréal and portions of Québec.
Water levels are only expected to rise with another storm developing in time to unleash potentially severe thunderstorms on Monday afternoon followed by damaging winds, according to the National Weather Service.
The high on Monday is expected to be 84 degrees and then drop to 52 on Tuesday, after a cold front pushes through the area bringing wind gusts of over 40 mph. Those gusts threaten to bring additional flooding by pushing more lake water over break walls.
Schell saw firsthand on Sunday the dangers of rising waters and potent winds. In the morning, she stepped upon her deck to grab up a gate that had been ripped loose by the waters. The waters made her their next victim, sending her sprawling.
"The waves took me out," she said.
Residents, emergency workers and town crews collaborated in several areas to pile sandbags near lakefront homes to try and impede some of the water.
"If this is going to be the norm, you know this is not good," said Victoria Thomas of Ampor Beach, where folks worked for several hours to fill sandbags. "There is nothing in place to help us."
Water continued to rise Sunday in other areas of the county near Lake Ontario. Water from the Genesee River began to spill over into a parking lot in Irondequoit's Summerville area. Webster residents near the Irondequoit Bay outlet were also faced with rising water.
But on the west side of the county, the crashing waves on break walls not only sent water flailing about but also shook homes.
"It is crazy," said Mark Barrett, an Edgemere Drive resident. "We have break wall and it is going right over the top of it. The lake level is too high and it is flooding us all out."
Emergency officials encouraged Schell to leave her Edgemere drive home but she decided on viewing the lake's wrath from her windows. A hanging at her home wall spoke of the supposed tranquility of the location, telling visitors, "Relax, you're on the beach."
As Schell watched, she acknowledged that she has loved the spectacular view of Lake Ontario, but the flooding — the worst she has witnessed in her five years on the lake — is making her rethink her choice of residence.
"Florida is looking better and better every day," she said.