Swollen lake levels eat way Ontario Beach

(WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. - A swollen Lake Ontario is wreaking havoc on beaches along the shoreline.

"Oh my god," said Leonard Turner. “It's terrible. A lot of smudge coming up.”

On Friday, the lake was at a record-breaking level, and with the wind and waves crashing ashore, it's eating away at our beaches.

“It's kind of disheartening, to be honest,” said David Johnson. “Mid-May, you think this is the time to go to the beach."

But it’s not looking good, with just one week before the Memorial Day weekend. Monroe County said it will be ready. Shelters are rented, and lifeguards are hired.

“Mother Nature served us up a big mess this spring,” said county parks director Larry Staub. “We’ll see what time has in store for us. But for now, it’s a real mess.”

Standing water puddles riddle the sand. It’s so devastatingly different, people are marveling and taking pictures.

"That’s why I came out. To take pictures,” Daniel Delucenay said. “As bad as it sounds, it looks cool."

But for Leonard Turner, it's a place to recreate, which is hard to do now.

“You know, coming out playing football, volleyball, swimming friends, family, picnic,” he said. “But now? I don't know. It's a mess."

It's a mess that even the county recognizes. Workers have been cleaning up debris, bottles and cans that have washed ashore, and taking note of some of the worse places.

“The amount of debris that we've had wash ashore this season is unprecedented,” Staub said. “And the amount of erosion that we've seen at the beach."

Half of the beach is underwater. As the lake continues to rise, it is unclear how much beach will be left in the coming months.

As to whether the county would build the beach back out to its normal width, Staub said, “No, it's a natural beach, So what you see is what you get. As long as there’s tiny sliver of beach, we’ll be ready for swimming and will have lifeguards out.”

The county hopes the water recedes. Until then, it’ll be a spotty chance of finding a dry patch on the beach.

"Sooner or later, it’s all going to dry out,” Terry McCarthy said. “But for now, everyone is just holding their breath when it goes away."

Regular volleyball season starts on June 5. Ontario Beach Park is open for swimming on June 23.

The Dentzel Carousel opens on Friday, May 26.

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