Panelists at a symposium at May 2 will try and educate North Jersey residents about the science, economic impact, and officials’ response to flooding in the Passaic River Flood Basin.
The event is not designed to be an open forum where flood victims will have a chance to share their experiences.
“Most of what people know about flooding is what they see on television in terms of its history, what causes it, and what has been done to solve the problem. We will hopefully lay out the big picture in terms of the scientific and economic issues and the historical setting of all of this,” said Sandra DeYoung, dean of the university’s College of Science and Health. DeYoung helped to organize the symposium. “The issue is national and international. If you want to discuss his topic, you’re going to need to see the big picture.”
Jeffery Hoffman, a supply modeling and planning expert with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the keynote speaker.
Several federal and state officials will speak during two panel discussions.
One panel will speak about how planning and responding to flood events is conducted. Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), and the DEP are scheduled to attend.
Local residents have been to flooding events in 2010 and 2011, including the caused last August.
Residents and local officials have been particularly disappointed with the of the floodgates on the Pompton Lake dam.
DeYoung said that professors at the school have discussed the problems associated with flooding with their students, including the role of public health officials in crisis situations and the effect flooding has had on the local water supply.
Mayor Chris Vergano, Assemblyman Scott Rumana, and other local officials will talk during the second panel discussion about what they are doing to better prepare for flood events.
Vergano declined to comment on his participation at the symposium.
DeYoung said that there has been very little discussion on how flooding has impacted the local economy.
Rumana has spoken of a “” in the basin if a long-term solution to flooding isn’t found and implemented soon. According to the ACE, the basin has sustained $3 to $4 billion in economic losses since 2005.
“The economy of this region can’t just keep taking hit after hit because of flooding,” Rumana said. “Businesses were closed for days after Irene and some still haven’t come back, and might not come back, if something isn’t done soon.”
The DEP is working with the Army Corps to complete a project management plan within the basin to study and analyze large-scale engineering projects to remediate flooding in the basin. The $2.6 million revaluation is scheduled to begin in June. The feasibility of installing levees, floodwalls, and modifying local bridges and dams will be analyzed.
Admission is free, but pre-registration is required. Attendance is limited to 300 people. About 80 have already signed up. Click here to register online.
For more information, see the event schedule attached to this article.