Which is to say, that flooding is inevitable as long as there are major deluges and there always will be unless and until we fall into the sun.
Nevertheless, things can be done to mitigate the problems that overwhelmed so many communities earlier this spring when eight or so inches of rain fell, causing local streams to swell to near Biblical proportions. It was an unprecedented, expensive, heart-breaking disaster– and worthy of Westchester County Executive Andy Spano’s call for a flooding summit.
But I’m somewhat amused, not to mention puzzled, by one of Spano’s first proposals that has nothing to do with flood prevention and everything to do with stupidity. He thinks it might be a good idea to erect special barriers to prevent people from driving onto the Bronx River Parkway and other parkways that are susceptible to flooding. The cars stall in the high water and the dummy drivers, who in many cases apparently ignore warning signs and drive around police sawhorses, have to be rescued. This ties up public works employees and emergency workers, who presumbably have better things to do with their time.
Spano believes some kind of sophisticated security gate would stop the dopey motorists. He doesn’t say how much the barriers cost, but they would be an item under a $50 million flood prevention fund raised over five years.
Maybe I’m missing something here, but this seems like a money-waster. It’s a Stupid Tax. A minority of drivers do a foolish thing and all taxpayers have to foot the bill for state-of-the-art barriers. Why not just fine the hell out those who ignore the warning signs.
It reminds me of a similar proposal a few years ago to set up a barrier to stop tractor-trailers from entering the parkways. The idea was expensive and went nowhere. It was, in effect, a Stupid Tax.
But here’s a thought about flooding and its cause. The other day, I was driving north on Weaver Street in New Rochelle, near the Scarsdale line, and I happened to pass the former Cherry Lawn driving range. The property was sold to a developer a year or so ago and now the bulldozers are at work, scooping up the ground and creating great mounds of dirt. No doubt, there will be dozens of homes built there…and where will all that runoff go when there’s a torrrential downpour?
The answer lies a short distance away. Down the road in the town of Mamaroneck is the Sheldrake River, which overflowed when the flood rains came and then ran as fast as mountain rapids into the basements and garages of countless homes.
So here’s a flood prevention proposal: Place a moratorium on all development in the region’s flood plain. Let’s see how that one goes over.