The aftermath of Hurricane Florence on the Carolinas is another wakeup call for our communities. Even though many preparations were made by local officials, there was still the loss of life and millions of dollars in damage.
While the wind was not as severe as originally forecasted, having been downgraded from a category four hurricane to a category one, the accumulation totals of the more than two feet of rain showed how devastating this amount of rainfall in a space of 48 hours can be for people and property.
We have seen in the last few months how vulnerable we are to heavy rains and high tides such as happened in August that flooded sections of Lynn. Or how many homes were flooded during the high tides in the blizzards of this winter.
In East Boston, the office of Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) has been holding classes and discussions on how to mitigate damage from rising sea levels and trying to build land seawalls to protect low laying areas. As a matter of fact, the Boston Planning and Development Agency will hold a hearing and two of the topics to be discussed will include flood protection and climate resiliency on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Mario Umana Academy Gymnasium, 312 Border St.
In Revere where most of the community lies at or below sea level, Councillor John Powers has been advocating for cleaning out and removing the debris from the emergency water ditches to make sure that surplus water can be moved quickly.
In Chelsea and Everett, the New England Produce Center is in danger of flooding from a storm like Florence and this flooding could cut off food supplies to many in the Northeast.
One can doubt whether any amount of preparation can be successfully when in North Carolina one river is expected to crest at 62 feet.
We know from super storm Sandy that new buildings and extensive housing renovations should move the utilities to higher levels in the structure.
Some advocate that more open land is needed to be able to absorb water, but when there are 24 inches of rain over a couple of days, the open ground is not able to absorb the rainfall fast enough.
The greatest natural resource we have to fight severe flooding are the saltwater marshes on North Shore Road and the Belle Isle Marsh. We do not know how many gallons of water these marshes could absorb but every effort should be made to try to expand the amount of water that these marshes can absorb.
In the end we are reminded of the quote:
“Oh God thy sea is so great and my boat is so small”