You used to be able to tell the story of Jim Jerome’s Pulaski family camp in pictures and memories.
Now it’s told in waves and water levels.
“You can’t do anything but throw your hands in the air and watch your land go away,” Jerome said. “It’s a heartbreaker.”
The International Joint Commission’s (IJC) Plan 2014 went into effect in January. It was meant to help manage water levels in Lake Ontario and preserve certain forms of wildlife.
The commission knew that water levels would rise, and they’ve gone up three feet, according to Jim’s records.
That’s the new normal for the IJC, but Jim will tell you, nothing about this is normal.
“This level is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before,” Jerome said. “Higher than in ’73, which was then set at a danger level.”
Jim says he’s a storm or two away from possibly losing everything: the camp his grandfather built, where he came as a kid, and the brought his own children.
“These people built to one set of standards: a four foot range,” Jerome said. “And it’s like at halftime of a basketball game, you come out in the second half and all of the sudden, you can only shoot four pointers from half court.”
Water might just be water. But a home is a home. And if you ask Jim what this place means to him, you can see he takes it personally.
“This is tough,” Jerome said. “This is our summer family home. A lot of love here.”
He hopes he’s still able to carry that love for generations.
“We would like to pass it along to our kids,” Jerome said. “And have them and their kids have the experience we had growing up.”
But as the water continues rising, those hopes recede.
A 72-year legacy only has strong as the final wave it touches.