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Broken barrier wall leads to ongoing flooding problems in Monroe County

Posted at 6:25 PM, Jun 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-11 18:25:52-04

A broken barrier wall that is supposed to protect a residential area in Monroe County from flooding instead has homeowners upset and desperate for a long-lasting solution. 

After two months of reoccurring flooding, breaks in the barrier wall at the base of Lake Erie are considered a major problem by Emergency Management officials. 

As many as 250 homes have been damaged due to recent flooding, causing residents headaches and a lot of cash. 

Robert Kuchinski was cleaning up a muddy mess outside of a home that was left there from mid-April. Since then, he says people have felt the cold shoulder from their local government. 

“Do you have any idea why there’s not more assistance money for something like this? Like I said, I’m baffled by it,” Kuchinski said. 

Why does the water keep pouring in? And who's responsible for the damage? Could it be Mother Nature's fault?

7 Action News asked Mark Hammond, head of the Monroe County Emergency Management, who is responsible and how can these issues be fixed.

“Break walls behind your house that keep the water back is very similar to your driveway or sidewalk," Hammond said. "That’s your property or your responsibility.”

He added that federal relief dollars are scarce when it comes to competing with other states battling hurricanes. 

And so far, requests through FEMA have been denied, something Action News is working to verify. 

Lake Erie is also 2 feet above normal water level, and mixed with high winds and decades of old concrete wall, there's little protection for homes in the area. 

Now, contractors are racing to fix the busted wall before the next flood. 

Greg Braunlich, a homeowner in the area, has taken emergency loans from his bank to foot the bill after the township told him it's his fault for not making necessary repairs. 

“Everybody chose to live here just like we did," Braunlich said. "But, it’s our responsibility so yes we’re getting it fixed.”

But the next break in an aging wall could be anywhere, and repair work is often time consuming. 

“We got to fix it and everybody’s mad because it’s not up yet, but there’s steps to it," said Contractor Mike Toth. "The right steps to take.” 

French Township Supervisor Jim McDevitt has also floated the idea of pressing lawmakers to hold the shipping industry accountable, meaning exploring a way to possibly lower the water level. 

Shipping companies have carried heavier loads as a result of rising water levels. But now, the community is rallying for something to be done. 

“Niagra Falls can be lowered or opened up," McDevitt said. "We don’t know that yet."

He added, “We’ve furnished sand bags. We’ve had the fire department out there. The water department out there. Everyone is going to get blamed for something. It’s just falling on us, like we’re not doing our job properly.”