To the Editor: Vacating the Floodplain Isn't the Answer to Flooding
Local resident: "Flooding cannot be solved by running away."
Editor's note: This letter was written in response to an article "Plan Proposed for Permanent Flooding Fix," which appeared on Patch March 21.
Ella Filippone, a representative from the Passaic River Coalition recently proposed a plan to solve flooding by simply removing all residents from areas, which flood, using the phrase “vacating the floodplain.” The plan, as described, does not address serious repercussions to the communities in which it would be carried out and the public has a right to know the consequences of what is being proposed.
In Wayne, Pequannock, Riverdale, Pompton Lakes, and beyond, thousands of homes have been affected by flooding. Were these numbers only in the dozens, this case would be much different, but we’re discussing thousands of homes and millions of dollars in assessed property taxes over a 10 year period.
First and foremost, vacating all of these homes is simply not an option as the township governments affected would collapse financially under the burden of the lost tax revenues. The math at hand is fairly basic and anyone considering this option could easily model the data in a way that would reveal this, if they chose to do so.
Presuming that the lost tax revenue were not an obstacle and somehow the remaining township residents could be called upon to pay a massive increase in taxes for the same level of services year in and year out, vacating the floodplain is both inhumane and cruel.
My family has lived in the floodplain for 27 years. We have friends and neighbors who are like an extended family here. For us to leave, for any of them to leave, would be heartbreaking.
Consider that on the scale of thousands of homes. Consider too asking families with young children to pull those kids from the school system and throw them into a new community without any friends, tough enough for an adult, just plain cruel for a child. Those who wish to move away from the flood areas may do so with our blessing, but I just hope they know how much they’ll be missed in the community.
Finally, there are the future families and children of these townships. For those living in the floodplain, paying nearly double for a home of comparable size on the opposite side of the township is simply not an option. To vacate the floodplain would be to lock thousands of budding young families out of their own American Dream, something none of us would ever wish upon ourselves or our children.
Anyone who truly wishes to help remediate flooding, needs to take their voice and their soapbox to Trenton. Make sure lawmakers know that they need to support reservoir management bills, that they need to fund projects to remove accumulated silt and shoals from the riverbed, and that the federal government needs to address the extreme amounts of stormwater that New York state introduces into New Jersey each year without consequence.
Flooding cannot be solved by running away, but only by addressing the problem head on and as a community.