What municipalities can do about flooding
By JUDY HARLAN
The area around the Upper Delaware River just barely missed another flood this past week. Municipalities south and west of the river valley received heavy rains. Luckily, it didnt amount to much for us this time. But who knows what might happen? How long can our luck hold out?
Recently, this area experienced three 100-year, record-breaking floods in 18 months. That many floods of this magnitude in such a short period of time have been a rarityup to now. Many people have lost their homes, and in two instances local campgrounds along the river lost so much that they went out of business.
Can we do anything about handling or preventing future floods? The answer is a resounding Yes. There are many actions we can take, but we will have to change the way we have been doing things up to now, especially the way we face the tide of developments that are on the horizon and, in fact, are upon us already.
Federal, state and regional experts on flooding will hold two workshops in our area dealing with these issues this month. The title of the workshop is: Before the Next Flood: What Your Community Can Do! The first session will be held on Wednesday, November 15 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., at the Delaware Valley High School cafeteria, in Milford, PA; and the second will be held on Thursday, November 16 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Hancock High School in Hancock, NY.
The workshops are endorsed by the Visioning Committee of the Upper Delaware River Corridor, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Congresswoman Sue Kelly, Congressman Don Sherwood, the Pike County Planning Department, the Sullivan County Planning Department, the Delaware County Planning Department and the First National Bank of Jeffersonville.
This bipartisan list of such prestigious groups and individuals is testimony to the great need for better information on preventing and handling floods.
Carol Collier, Executive Director of the Delaware River Basin Commission, the Regional Director of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and individuals from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pike County Planning Department, the Delaware County Planning Department and the Sullivan County Planning Department will make presentations.
What communities need to do to prepare for the next disastrous flood will be the main topic. Some of the issues to be discussed will be how communities will handle future development, what ordinances can be passed on controlling practices that encourage flooding, how municipalities might take a regional approach in facing these issues, what can be done to lessen hazard situations, what can be done to improve communication between responding agencies and local communities and how agencies responsible for controlling waters can change past practices.
Also to be discussed is a task force on flooding that is being formed by the DRBC.
All municipal officials in the area are encouraged to attend one of these workshops, and residents are also welcome.
There is much that we can do and there is still time. What we cannot do is to do nothing.
(Judy Harlan, a former resident of Cochecton Center, NY now living in White Mills, PA, is a founding member of the Visioning Committee of the Upper Delaware River Corridor.)