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Power Authority: Even if it looks like it, ice boom isn't broken

The New York Power Authority says that just because pontoons have broken from the ice boom does not mean it is compromised.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz reported on Facebook at about 6 p.m. Sunday that seven sections of the boom were seen floating in the river. But that doesn't mean it was broken.

"People see the pontoon floating," Power Authority spokesman Lou Paonessa said. "They readily assume the ice boom has failed."

The "boom is designed to submerge during high wind and high water events, allowing ice to overtop the boom," the power authority said in a statement on its website.

Paonessa compares the ice boom and its pontoons to charms on a charm bracelet, which would still function if charms fell off.

Fay Davis looks out to the ice mound that covered her pation at her home on Hoover Beach in Hamburg Monday, February 25, 2019.      (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

"These pontoons can break free; they're not linked together themselves. It's an attachment to the boom," he said. "It's not unusual for a pontoon to fall off, much like a charm bracelet."

The boom reduces the frequency and duration of ice flowing downstream, but "it can't hold all the ice back," he said. The authority said any high water or flooding is not due to the ice boom, but because of the high winds.

"It is not unusual for ice boom pontoons to break loose during high wind events. It does not mean the ice boom is compromised," the authority said.

The ice boom is made up of 22 500-foot sections and is connected to the bottom of the lake, Paonessa said. Several pontoons did break free, and several were loose before Sunday's wind, he said.

The power authority is monitoring conditions and "remains focused on public safety and preventing and mitigating any flooding along the Niagara River in the vicinity of the Niagara Power Plant,” it said.

Paonessa said ice has been going past the intakes and flowing over Niagara Falls.

"Power production has not been impacted because of ice at all," he said.

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