Flash flooding devastated Rensselaer County last month. Are we ready for the next one?
On Wednesday, July 14th, more than 4 inches of rain fell in a matter of hours in parts of Rensselaer County. A “new normal” of extreme weather resulted in flash flooding that cost property owners, businesses, and municipalities tens of thousands of dollars in damage and washed away local roads. As a result, many have said, “I’ve never seen anything like this happen here”, yet according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) similar extreme weather events will only increase in frequency and severity, due to climate change.
Damage to roads, bridges, sewer systems, runoff mechanisms, residential homes, and small businesses will take years, not months, to repair.
I personally witnessed our broader communities’ collective response to this disaster; neighbors came out to help neighbors, strangers became family, and people came together for those who suffered. While such shows of compassion are cause for hope, this alone cannot replace a frank conversation on long-term investments in our infrastructure, weatherization upgrades, and climate resiliency.
Our local infrastructure is in major disrepair and outdated, illustrated by how easily entire bridges, culverts, and roads were washed away in a matter of minutes. Reapplying cheap coats of asphalt and cosmetic upgrades to county highways and roads is no substitute for smart planning that will weatherize and modernize our transportation infrastructure and improve resistance to future extreme weather events.
Moving forward, we need to upgrade and replace aging culverts, improve flooding embankments and ditching alongside roads, and put emphasis on other climate-resilient features like permeable pavement in hamlets and municipal centers. Continuing to pave new or existing roads without these types of infrastructure and weatherization upgrades is akin to lighting your tax dollars on fire; it would have the same measure of effectiveness.
This is our ‘climate moment’ – let’s adapt.
Alex Flood, Schodack
Credit where due in Sand Lake
In reply to Linda Filarecki who rightly questions the expenditure of town taxpayer dollars to appeal a Supreme Court decision regarding the special use permit for a party barn at 204 Barnes Road, I believe the credit for the approval of the expenditure of that taxpayer money rightfully belongs to the Town Board which controls the town purse strings, not the planning board. Which raises the question of what does the Town Board think it is getting in return for that money? Why did the Town Board approve that money given that § 2 of New York State Town Law, Definition of town, provides that a town is a municipal corporation comprising the inhabitants within its boundaries, and formed for the purpose of exercising such powers and discharging such duties of local government and administration of public affairs as have been, or, may be conferred or imposed upon it by law. Clearly the residents of the town who brought the Article 78 against the Planning Board are as much a part of the town as anyone else, and clearly, given the Planning Board lost the Article 78, or failed to prevail, it would logically follow that the Town failed to exercise such powers and discharge such duties of local government and administration of public affairs as have been conferred or imposed upon it by law. So why spend town money to defend them when NY Constitution Art. IX § 2(c)(10) states that the Town Board shall have power to adopt and amend local laws not inconsistent with the provisions of this constitution or any general law relating to its property, affairs or government and, is responsible for the government, protection, order, conduct, safety, health and well-being of persons or property therein? Given that the police power of the town is the power it has to provide for public order, peace, health, safety, morals and general welfare, and given the exercise of the police power to control land use in Sand Lake is a town function it failed to provide, isn’t funding this appeal a coverup?
Paul Plante, Poestenkill