Education a Key to Flood Mitigation
9/5/2012 (Updated 10:59:33 PM)(Source: Jason Weinstein)
Rivers and streams are part of this area's natural beauty. They're also the source of the major flooding we have suffered through in 2006 and 2011. So what do we know about these waterways that can alternately be sources of serenity and suffering.
"Education is the best piece. People need to know that they are potentially in harm's way. And you as a homeowner or me as a homeowner, we need to have some ownership of the fact that we have the potential to get wet. If you've been wet before there's a good chance you can be wet again," said Chip McElwee, Director of Broome County Soil and Water Conservation.
McElwee says resources to deal with the effects of flooding are drying up and that the focus needs to be on mitigation steps that bring the most bang for the buck. That's one reason he's skeptical about dredging the river as a way to mitigate the damage of future floods.
"Once you start monkeying with the rivers you don't think of the unforeseen consequences, either upstream or downstream. It can cause more erosion, it can cause more erosion downstream. Or, worse yet, you're spending a lot of money and showing no net effect," said McElwee.
Even two major floods in five years haven't done much to change the depth of the rivers, according to McElwee.
"The rivers are a whole other animal. They're pretty dynamic. Honestly, if you take a look at the rivers the river profile hasn't changed significantly in hundreds of years," said McElwee.
There are 10 work sites in the Town of Union, Vestal , Windsor and Barker being funded by a $2.2 million grant. Much of this work is repairing stream banks, building rock walls and clearing debris from streams and creeks.
McElwee says local governments need to be wary of new development in areas that have a history of heavy flooding. Homeowners need to adjust as well.
"Do we take and move our circuit-breaker boards upstairs and out of the basement? Do we take and think about the basement as being a place, for instance, if we have items we can get out quickly if we know a flood's coming," said McElwee.
And the one-year anniversary of the 2011 flood is a good time to reflect on the lessons learned.
"Now we need to do some good, hard thinking on what the best options in the communities are to minimize risk from flood damage in the future," said McElwee.
****In Binghamton, Jason Weinstein, FOX 40 News****
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