, Salem, MA


October 7, 2013

Letter: The time is now to plan for future floods

To the editor:

Each year, there is always some debate in most New England cites and towns as to how much money to allot for snow removal. It’s not exactly something anyone really wants to spend a big chunk of the budget on, but on the other hand, you need it to keep going. It’s often been cited by a number of news organizations that it’s been a habit to aim low, hope for the best, and then authorize emergency funding when the city in question runs short midway through the season. After we all got buried two winters ago, and citizens were understandably angry that they suddenly had no way to get to work or even the grocery store, it seemed that most local councils decided to get more realistic and just allot for what is actually a pretty predictable situation. It’s New England; the winters are long, and that usually means a lot of snow, right?

So, what to make of the new FEMA flood zone mapping that just became available to the public a week or so ago? If you haven’t had a look, it’s not the easiest system to navigate, but I urge you to do so. Looking over the areas of Salem and its neighboring towns, it’s a pretty sobering glimpse into what also is a “predictable” future, though, hopefully, not “seasonal for a few years yet! FEMA states that the flood zones are depicting a “theoretical once-in-every-100-years flood potential,” but I don’t think any of us can really say that’s the way the weather has been trending. The so-called “once-in-a-lifetime storms” have been happening all around the country now with quite a bit of regularity. Practically every six months, we are seeing once-in-a-lifetime storms hitting in some new place, Colorado just being the most recent.

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