Friday, October 17, 2008

New York environmental official says land use behind recent flooding

Times Herald-Record (Middletown, New York): Don't put all the blame for those floods that have plagued this region and the rest of the state the past few years on climate change. Ed Thomas made that point Thursday during an all-day flood summit hosted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"We haven't even begun to see the effect of climate change," said Thomas, a lawyer with Michael Baker Corp., a Pennsylvania-based engineering and consulting firm. "Land use is the problem. The commissioner nailed it this morning." He was referring to DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis, who delivered keynote remarks at the summit. Grannis said the effects of the storms have been "worsened by poor land-use strategies."

…In the mid-Hudson, massive spring storms in recent years have caused extensive flooding from the Delaware River to creeks like the Esopus and Rondout. People have died and homes, businesses and roads were washed away. "This is an all-hands-on-deck issue," Grannis said. "Obviously, these storms are not going to abate. Responding after these storms is not enough."

…Larry Larson, executive director of the Association of State Flood Plain Managers, said those who live in high-risk areas shouldn't count on government to come to their aid after a flood. "People think the federal government is going to bail them out," Larson said. "We have to change that thinking."

West Point, New York painting by Seth Eastman

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