Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Jersey must take immediate action to address Passaic River flooding

A commentary by Jeff Tittel in New Jersey Newsroom: For the first time the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has denied funding to New Jersey for the March flooding of the Passaic River. FEMA did not consider the flood event major enough to be a disaster. For the people who live along the Passaic River it is a disaster. The impact on their homes, families, and lives is devastating. The March flood was the second big flood they faced in little over a year. These people should not be put through this type of disaster time and time again. The FEMA decision came at a time when people are still cleaning up from another flood that happened earlier this week.

…This decision reinforces the need to have buyouts on Passaic River. The homes that constantly flood need to be purchased. We should remove those houses and restore the flood plain. In the long run this approach is cheaper for tax payers, better for the environment, and better for the families next to the river.

Even though most of the families have flood insurance, it is subsidized by tax payers. People without flood insurance tend to be poor people or senior citizens that do not have mortgages. But more importantly the people that go through these disasters time and time again have to be moved out of harms way.

…Gov. Christie has placed roll backs on flood hazard rules, removing key protections like zero net fill and stream buffers. He has weakened storm water rules which would require recharging and detention of stormwater as well as buffers. The DEP has proposed a waiver rule that is so vague that virtually any development project can skirt the rules of critical environmental programs. Christie has been weakening the Highlands regulations by attempting to repeal the Highlands Act through appointments to the Highlands Council that are pro-development. Weakening protections in the Highlands will result in more flooding in the Passaic River Basin as the headwaters in the Highlands lose the capacity to store water as a result of development…

The Great Falls of the Passaic River at Paterson, New Jersey, a site enshrined in the William Carlos Williams poem. Shot by Contranova

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