Friday, September 9, 2011

Hurricanes and Flood Plains

Hurricane Irene hit us a couple of weeks ago and left broken homes and broken hearts behind. Creeks in Vermont swelled to destructive torrents unprecedented and unimagined by the locals and swept away much of their picturesque and sleepy small towns.  Others, like residents of Paterson, New Jersey, who had no reason to suspect catastrophe, were stunned by flooded streets and wrecked possessions. As I write this, the Susquehanna River is many feet over flood stage in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier in New York State is bracing for the worst.

And then there's poor old Wayne, New Jersey, and other towns nearby: just awful. People who built or bought on the banks of Passaic River tributaries have been completely inundated by the swelling waters. You want to be sympathetic, and it's surely heart-breaking to see so many people left without homes. But you have to ask yourself why. The Passaic River floods Wayne and Fairfield every time there's substantial rain. Every time! Read the papers: it's public record; ask anybody.

Knowing this, these folks bought anyway. What did they think would happen the next time there was a major storm? How many basements have to flood and how many vans trucks of ruined furniture have to be carted off before these people get it? And they rebuild and come back and get flooded out again. And then they want FEMA disaster help? And start the cycle of stupidity again. More floods, more FEMA, ad nauseum.

You know the expression "teachable moment"? That's what this is. These people need to step up to the problems they created themselves. Take responsibility, admit your mistakes, suck it up and move elsewhere, anywhere, higher. I'm not unfeeling, but it's a matter of personal responsibility. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.  We have to stop bailing out people who knowingly get themselves into trouble.

Do you agree?

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