Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1757, September 14th, 2011




Congressman Paul Kanjorski recently wrote a very thoughtful piece on the recent flood threat to the Wyoming Valley. His remarks though are not surprising given the attention to detail that he paid with this project. On the broadcast, during “River fest” when L.A. Tarone and I interviewed the former legislator he was proud of his legacy with the revamped riverfront for recreational purposes. Little did we all realize that a much more important legacy was to be revealed after the flood waters of September.
Federal agencies had key role in mitigating flood loss COMMENTARY Paul E. Kanjorski
FOR THOSE of us who lived through the Agnes flood of 1972, Thursday provided a sickening sense of deja vu. Days and days of rain saturated the ground in advance of a hurricane pulling moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, which dumped even more rainfall. Small streams became raging torrents, and the Susquehanna River rose rapidly.
As the Wyoming Valley faced catastrophe last week, unlike in 1972, the federal government is now a full partner with local emergency officials. It is worth noting how the federal government helped us avoid a great deal more loss of life and property, and how it will continue to help in the aftermath of unprecedented flooding. It is especially timely to consider the value of these government services as we are engaged in a national debate about government spending and reducing the federal deficit.
The National Weather Service predicted the effect of rainfall in the entire Susquehanna River Basin for our local emergency officials, giving them time to evacuate those areas at greatest risk. When the Weather Service predicted that the river would rise to close to the level of protection afforded by the levee system, officials wisely ordered the evacuation of the levee-protected areas. Because of the advance notice provided by the National Weather Service, many residents had the time to move their belongings out of harm’s way before evacuating in an orderly manner.
In 2002, the Army Corps of Engineers completed strengthening the levee system that protects much of the Wyoming Valley (at a cost of more than $200 million). The levee did its job beautifully. Potential weak spots were discovered and corrected quickly by the corps and county officials working together.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency arrived in advance of the storm with supplies. The agency also provided solace to those homeowners who took advantage of its flood insurance program that they would recover some of the costs of their property damage, which is rarely covered by private homeowners insurance. In the weeks and months after the floodwaters have receded, FEMA also will provide assistance to area officials faced with reconstructing millions of dollars of public infrastructure.
Although the federal government is our partner, the partnership is not designed to provide total compensation for the damages suffered by this devastating flood. Before we forget the devastation we just experienced, we should take advantage of the programs offered by the federal government to strengthen our homes and communities against future disasters. Under its hazard mitigation program, FEMA provides grants to homeowners living in flood plains to sell their homes or raise their homes to a higher elevation.
The Army Corps of Engineers provides structural flood protection to entire communities, but projects such as the Wyoming Valley Levee System are undertaken only when they can be done in a cost-effective manner. The corps is required to conduct a benefit/cost analysis before constructing any new flood-protection project; there must be more than one dollar of benefit for every dollar expended. Unfortunately, in some communities the cost of protecting the structures in the flood plain does not justify the cost of constructing levees. As the federal budget continues to shrink, the corps will have fewer resources for new projects.
Your federal tax dollars pay for the operations of the National Weather Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Had we not spent hundreds of millions of federal dollars on monitoring the river, building a levee and subsidizing flood insurance premiums, the people of Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania would be spending tens of billions to clean up and rebuild from this devastating flood.
Clearly the funds that helped our region prepare for the unprecedented rainfall we endured were wisely spent.
Getting the federal budget under control for the first time since President Clinton left office is an important priority for the country. But when you hear politicians calling for cuts in spending, remember how that spending will affect you. Remember the National Weather Service, the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA.
Paul E. Kanjorski, of Nanticoke, is a former U.S. congressman who represented the 11th District, which includes parts of Luzerne and Lackawanna counties and all of three contiguous counties.


At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Professor Milburn Cleaver, OPA said...

Students, just received word that the REpublican challenger in Mr. Weiner's district won the special congressional election.
We can only now conclude that the days of Obama are numbered.
Class Dismissed!!!!!

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so its yet to be seen if Barletta will advocate and secure funding for all those communities that are NOW asking for protection. We shall see, hopefully the water wont rise until then.

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw that interview on TV. You guys were really good and I'm very glad DAve that you in particular showed the former Congressman the respect you did. L.A. too. We have much to be thankful for with Mr. Kanjorski's actions on the levee funding. Many politicians today toss the word watch dog around like a badge of honor. Kanjorski according to President Clinton was like a dog with a bone when it came to this project. We need more of them and less ":watchdogs"!


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