Saturday, September 10, 2011

Government should correct bad planning decisions of the past

Michael J. Pointing in (New York’s Lower Hudson Valley): The devastation that occurred as a result of Hurricane Irene was profoundly felt by Rockland County and communities stretching from North Carolina to New England. In every regard, this was a historical storm that brought 8 inches of rain to the area in a mere 12 hours. Irene should finally be the catalyst for federal, state and local government to look for logical solutions to the suffering caused by floods. The proverbial camel cannot hold another straw on its back.

Voluntary acquisitions or buyouts of flood-prone properties should become the choice of action, using Federal Emergency Management Agency, state and local government funds.

Government did the right thing in Missouri in the 1990s, buying out more than 4,000 of the most vulnerable properties, serving as a model for flood-buyout programs. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie authorized the purchase of 77 homes alongside the Passaic River just before Irene arrived. This is a smart course of action that should be applied in Rockland.

Homes that were built alongside major water bodies like the Hackensack River in West Nyack are directly in the 100-year floodplain. They were built at a time when land was plentiful and inexpensive, but permission for their development should never have been granted. Modern construction, like the Palisades Center in West Nyack, only exacerbates the problem by diverting flood waters into surrounding neighborhoods. It is time to put an end to those bad planning decisions of the past…

Panorama showing Wooster Memorial Grove Park, Walden, NY, USA, flooded by Tin Brook (which surrounds it) after Hurricane Irene. Shot by Daniel Case, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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