Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Monday, September 05, 2011

The Garden State: The Nation's Watering Can

Obama arrived in Paterson, at Presidential Boulevard, and also visit Wayne, declaring that his visit was not about politics. Sure looked like a photo op. Upper Passaic County had to suffer his presence if they wanted the much-desired FEMA money.  New Jersey was given the money he promised, with Gov. Christie thrown in for good measure. It’s literally like throwing money down a fast-guzzling drain. What can you do? The people have to be bailed out; there’s just no getting around it.

How severe Irene’s impact was depends on the part of the state you live in. Down the Shore, the seaside resorts got hit, but bounced back quickly. For the rest of southern New Jersey, there wasn’t much damage aside from trees down here and there.  As you get to the central part of the state, particularly Bound Brook and the Raritan River, the state saw more water. But Bound Brook’s flood gates held. They had some spillover, but no worse than any other bad storm.

The northwestern part of the state – where all those little riverlets turn into raging rapids, power and roads were out for days. Their water went south and east. The Pompton River, which begins in Riverdale, to be geographically precise, fed by the Pequannock, Wanaque, and Ramapo Rivers, feeds into the Passaic River, which also accepts contributions from the Rockaway River and its subsidiaries.

The Passaic proceeded to rampage through Fairfield, Wayne, Little Falls, and Totowa, and finally over The Great Falls into Paterson. Obama rode the crest into the Silk City with plenty of money but no more answers than anyone else.  It’s the Pompton Dam. It’s overdevelopment (it certainly is). It’s rivers and streams that need to be dredged. It’s the lack of a flood tunnel (it terms of money, you don’t want to even think about it. If you think another tunnel under the Hudson would cost big bucks, building flood tunnels and messing around with Mother Earth’s crust is a total nightmare).

The facts are: 113 square miles of watershed land, including southern New York State. Mix in ten inches of rain from one moderate hurricane – Category One, coming up the Gulf Stream and picking up all the water that was released and dumping it right back into the rivers, streams, and reservoirs again – and you’ve got an incalculably expensive problem.

Dredging the rivers will help some. Holding the water back as long as possible, until the water is spilling over the gates will delay the arrival of Noah’s Ark. This is New Jersey, though, where the rivers meet the sea and hurricanes feeding off the warm Gulf Stream until they run out of steam off the Maryland coast. They’d leave sooner if the water was warmer off our coast.  Often, the west winds send them out to sea. Eastern Long Island gets clobbered. But every couple of decades, a storm decides to visit the Garden State.

Florida gets the nasty end of the hurricanes, it’s true; but Florida only has to worry about hurricane season. We also get snowy winters. Three seasons out of the year, New Jersey is prone to flooding.  Money will help with the recovery. Some creative engineering can mitigate damage ahead of time. In the end, Mother Nature will do whatever she feels like doing. With an historically high deficit, the government has no money to buy out most of northern and central New Jersey’s homes.

But Obama can buy votes. That he can do.


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