Thursday, February 28, 2013

Take steps to minimize flood risk

An editorial in the Poughkeepsie Journal (New York): The mid-Hudson Valley has seen more than its share of flooding in recent years due to severe storms — and natural disasters like Superstorm Sandy have taken their toll on the region. It seems clear Congress is going to be pushed to approve more disaster relief in the future, but there is only going to be so much funding to go around.

The area is not without means — and ways — to combat these issues. But it has to plan smarter and be fully aware of the strategies and programs in place to help. Storm damage is controllable and containable to a degree. Smart planners, environmental groups and geologists have talked about these strategies for years — but it is incumbent on localities and, in some cases, the state and federal government to implement them. They include:
  • Removing storm debris that can block creeks, streams and other waterways. Failing to do so could make the damage from the next storm worse; excess water needs a place to go, preferably to larger waterways and other places that can absorb runoff.
  • Establishing stronger buffers along streams and wetlands. Development along these fragile bodies of water makes it difficult for them to handle the downpours that occur during big storms.
  • Taking regional approaches to flood prevention. Simply put, water doesn’t care about political boundaries. Controlling flooding simply can’t be done on a town-by-town basis.
  • Saving farmland and open space. Development will continue to occur, especially once the economy gets moving again. That is to be expected and should be embraced. But there has to be a balance by strategically saving lands that will do the most good to preserve farming and help mitigate flooding....
Alvan Fisher's 1853 painting, "Hudson River near West Point"

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