Pompton Lakes Floodgates Much Debated at Pequannock Council Meeting

a1_LOTITO_Pequannock_Flood_(Irene)_2011 080Image by Christopher Lotito via FlickrAt the Pequannock Township Council Workshop Meeting on Tuesday September 13th, 2011, residents agreed on a number of issues:

The first of which is that, Pequannock is a wonderful town to live in, full of amazing volunteers and staff members who go above and beyond when disaster strikes (and the rest of the time too!).

  • Personally, I've noted that, among other things, there has been no shortage of laundry services through the Pompton First Reformed Church.  Though it seems a small thing, that shows to me that even those residents who may not be able to volunteer or donate in other ways, are doing as much as they are able to help out.  Despite full time jobs and flooding of their own (with 1/5th of township households effected by flooding after Hurricane Irene), a stunning number of individuals made the time to do a load of a stranger's smelly, flood water soaked, laundry.  That's really appreciated.  
  • Mayor Phelan noted in his statements that many of the Emergency Management Team held their posts and worked tirelessly through the entire disaster despite that their own homes were under water and needed tending.  That's dedication!  
  • Someone else noted that the response from the 2 firehouses was incredible... especially considering that one of those facilities lost water and electrical service early in the disaster.  

Once again, there are too many stories of heroism and dedication to list in their entirety here, but I will do my best to recount them as I hear them.

Another point hit upon by several residents, but really hammered home in a surprising statement by resident Michael Hubner, was the accusation that dam operators north of Pequannock refused to lower water levels in the week preceding Hurricane Irene based upon the claim that they sell the water and will not discard something for which they are paid.  This is an opinion that I happen to share: shame on anyone who looks to profit when hundreds of families are now displaced, 4 people are dead, and billions of dollars in damage has occurred to our homes.

...and how much of this debate is opinion?  It's a fact that dam operators have refused to lower water levels based upon the status of their water as a product.  It's a fact that the potential flood storage by these dams could have lowered the flood levels south of the dams by a matter of feet.  The only thing left to opinion in my mind is whether dam operators north of our town are simply naive and lack a basic understanding of how flood storage works or if they are actually as callous as some residents fear.

At this time I reserve judgement, confident that the truth will come out, and shortly.

Christopher Lotito is a member of the Pequannock EnvironmentalHistoric District, and Flood Control Advisory Commissions as well as the author of  "Torrent," a book about flooding in the region.  Lotito's personal mission is to reduce new taxes, drastically reduce flooding, and preserve more green spaces for our children.  Christopher Lotito Profile

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