A year ago today, our region was deluged by the remnants of Hurricane Irene, which left a path of destruction along the east coast that few of us will forget.
The Passaic River Basin and the people who live here were especially hard hit as torrents of water crashed over their banks and into people’s basements and livings rooms. Homes were destroyed and memories washed away. Businesses were closed and people lost more than possessions—they lost income and the comfort from knowing their homes are safe. The waters took weeks to recede and putting lives back together took a lot longer.
It’s a year later now and unfortunately none of us can say with any certainty that the next Irene that comes barreling up the coast will not have the same results.
In the past year we repaired damaged roads and bridges and helped people repair their homes and businesses. But not nearly enough has been done on a regional basis to protect us from another deluge and give people the safety they deserve.
Flooding is becoming more frequent in Fairfield, Lincoln Park and Parsippany and moving into areas that have not flooded in decades. We must face the reality that our flooding problems are not going away.
While some measures have been taken to protect residents, such as buying out the most flood-prone homes, the state and federal governments cannot buy out all the homes and business that are threatened by torrents on the scale of Irene.
Even if the government had the money to buy out all the properties that were flooded, our municipalities would become ghost towns and or local economy would suffer a staggering loss of jobs and income.
There must be more urgent work on permanent solutions to flooding by the combined efforts of all levels of government. We need to explore fully, the investment in flood walls, and levees – as well as dredging our rivers and streams. We need to invest in protecting our communities and saving lives.
And we need to let Washington know that we oppose the end of federal subsidies for flood insurance for hard working homeowners. Depriving our residents of affordable flood insurance will place upon them an awesome financial burden that will be ruinous to many.
A lot can happen in a year, but not enough has happened to give our residents the peace of mind that the next rain storm or hurricane will not wash away their homes and businesses. A year is not long enough to wash away the painful memories of Irene.
Asw. BettyLou DeCroce, 26th District