Education the Key to Mitigating Floods

By Brennan Smith

April 11, 2012 Updated Apr 11, 2012 at 11:16 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The Broome County Environmental Council will tell you what happened in the clouds had a lot to do with what happened on the ground in September's Floods.

It says understanding this can help prevent future flooding.

"We'd like to get a better handle on what are the contributing factors, and why we experience the flooding that we did. Most of us have a general idea, some of the basic principles behind it," said Chris Burger, part of the Broome County Environmental Management Council.

Those basic principles were the topic of discussion at the Broome County Library as the EMC and guests weighed in on what caused September's floods.

"It's all about meteorology. We had 68 inches of rain this past year in this county, and I am sure it was more in some areas. That's what was measured at the airport. Prior to that the record was 48 inches. Normal is around 38 inches," said Chip McElwee from the Soil and Water Conservation District.

McElwee says there's no way to necessarily predict the weather pattern to tell whether the Southern Tier will see a wet, flood-prone season, but he says flooding in our area isn't anything new.

Before September's flood, the largest flood hit in 1865.

"We live in flood alley. This is one of the most flood-prone areas of the country, and we have to recognize that when we move forward with any development. The best options, sometimes, are not putting ourselves in harm's way," said McElwee.

Although avoiding development within flood plains is the best way to stay dry, McElwee says there are some things that could reduce the severity of floods, like improving urban storm-water control and maintaining the flow of streams.

"One of the most important issues about flood mitigation is education so people understand what the issues are, and they have a better understanding moving into the future so the decision-making process is a smart one," said McElwee.

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