Published: May 3,2017
New York's Old Fort Niagara on Lake Ontario is the oldest building in the Great Lakes Basin and has survived not only the test of time but three wars. Today, it is facing a very different theat: erosion from rising lake waters that could compromise the stability of the castle.
Officials in Youngstown, New York, completed an inspection of the grounds Monday at the fort and discovered that a chunk of a bank in the park had fallen into the lake.
“We were doing a routine inspection yesterday and we noticed that some trees were missing on the lake shore, just east of the fort,” Robert Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara told WIVB.
Emerson, who has been working at the French-styled fort for the past 20 years says he has never seen water levels rise this high. Several trees have fallen into the lake as the water continues to erode the sides of the banks at the park.
“If the water level rises above that lower seawall, then we're going to see significant damage to the upper seawall that holds the French Castle up,” said Emerson. “The higher water levels are having a detrimental effect on those big rocks so our concern is that further east of here the fort has a sea wall and the sea wall essentially protects the french castle and 18th-century buildings from falling into the lake."
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The Lake Ontario basin recorded 54 percent more precipitation than average in April, according to weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce.
"As a result of the large amounts of precipitation, water supply to all lakes was well above average," Dolce said. "All lakes' outflows remained above average throughout April."
The higher water levels on Lake Ontario have also impacted residents who live along the lake, reports the Niagara Gazette. Niagara County and state emergency management officials placed sandbags at locations along the shoreline to protect property.
Several homes and business owners have already reported significant damage to property in the county.
According to the park's website, the fort served as an important military post well into the 20th century. It controlled access to the Great Lakes during the Revolutionary War and was a training station during both World Wars.
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