Federal Icebreaking Assistance

Federal Icebreaking Brochure

Lake Erie Harbors

Who Is Responsible For Responding To Ice Jam Floods?

The affected community is responsible; however, their efforts can be supplemented by County, State, and Federal assistance.

Which Federal Agency Provides This Assistance?

The Corps of Engineers has the primary mission for flood fight assistance and when appropriate, calls upon the resources of the U.S. Coast Guard in providing ice breaking operations.

What Happens Following A Request?

Both the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard evaluate the severity of the threat, the prevailing weather conditions, the effectiveness of possible ice-breaking assistance, the availability of Coast Guard equipment and the accessibility to the threatened site.

How Does A Community Request Federal Assistance For Icebreaking?

If the request for ice breaking assistance is for navigation only, then the community can contact the Coast Guard directly. If the request is to alleviate the potential for ice-jam flooding, then the community should coordinate the request through the Corps of Engineers.

Is Each Request Handled In The Order Received?

Requests are evaluated immediately upon receipt. The priority given to each request is based on the realistic ability to reduce damage to life and property. Since ice jams present a continuously changing threat, these priorities are frequently reevaluated and adjusted as appropriate.

How Can A Community Follow Up On The Status Of Its Request?

The Corps of Engineers representative, who is usually on the scene of each flood situation, should be able to provide this status information. If the representative is not available, status verification can be obtained from the Corps officials located at the Buffalo District Office.

Is Icebreaking Assistance Available Only During Actual Flooding?

Requests can be made in anticipation of ice-jam flooding, but naturally, do not carry the same priority as an imminent or actual flood situation.

What Is The Extent Of Icebreaking Assistance?

Assistance is limited to areas having sufficient navigational depth and the room for the Coast Guard equipment to safely maneuver.

How Long Is The Response Time?

Response time is dependent on where the equipment is located when the request is made, as well as the existing ice conditions on Lake Erie. Generally speaking, a minimum of 24 hours is required.

How Effective Is Federal Icebreaking Assistance In Relieving The Flood Threat?

Federal assistance is intended to be supplemental to a local community effort. The effectiveness of that assistance is largely dependent on how much effort is put forth by the community. Of course, there are other considerations such as climatic conditions, timeliness of the response and just plain luck; which can affect the success of the joint operations.

Contacts for Federal Ice Breaking Assistance

Corps of Engineers

Cleveland Office



Matt Snyder 216-685-1206 216-701-4711 (Cell)
Richard Reisner 216-399-6176 440-864-7377 (Cell)
Russell Wahlay 216-685-1205 440-503-9556 (Cell)

Toledo Office

Richard Reisner 216-399-6176 440-864-7377 (Cell)

Buffalo District Office

Laura Ortiz  716-208-9387 716-868-9809 (Cell)
Deborah Lewandowski  716-879-4157 716-238-3886 (Cell)
    Emergency Management Office    

U.S. Coast Guard District Nine

Sector Detroit Ice Office