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Congressman Owens travels Champlain shoreline, views damage

WESTPORT -Memorial Day weekend is usually a perfect time for an evening out, dining at one of Westport's lakeside restaurants.

This year, you're going to need a snorkel.

Congressman Bill Owens saw for himself the impact the flooding on Lake Champlain is having on local businesses when he toured the Lake Champlain shoreline in Essex County May 19, stopping at the Westport Marina, among other places.

"It's a disaster," Larry Carroll of the Westport Marina said. "The damages are looking at about $250,000 and up."

"It's hard to belive the power of nature until you see things like this," Owens said. "It looks like people built their houses and their businesses right in the middle of the lake. How can you possibly anticipate a 500-year flood? And there is no way that you can afford to."

Owens also said that he is aware of the issues that are brought up by the loss of businesses, like the Marina and the local beaches in Moriah.

"The loss of the ability of these places to operate creates problems for the entire community," he said.

Westport supervisor Daniel Connell agreed.

"We have no clue whether any of the three lakeside restaurants (the Galley at the marina, the Bistro and Normandie) will be back for the summer or not," Connell said. "These businesses are so critical to our town. You have people who boat into town and then go golfing or stay at the inns. It's going to hurt."

Owens also looked at damage in other areas, including Camp Dudley in Westport and the Essex ferry dock.

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