Sullivan County Democrat
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Planning for Trouble,
Hoping Against It

By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO — November 4, 2003 – Has your home been flooded lately? Perhaps you should think about asking the federal government to move your house or community.
This was actually an option presented at the meeting to discuss the Sullivan County Division of Public Works’ All County All Hazard/Pre Disaster Mitigation Plan Tuesday night, October 29 at the Government Center in Monticello.
The quick presentation was made by Bob Trotta of the Sullivan County Division of Public Works. He was assisted by Charlie Howe.
A slideshow with a broad overview of the plan was used to explain it to an audience of just six county residents.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently required all county governments to develop a disaster plan in order to apply for federal aid that could help prevent disasters and cover the cost of disaster damage.
The plan addresses risk assessment and identifies hazards to the community, past hazards, the vulnerability of the community to hazards, and a mitigation strategy.
The top five hazards: power failure, ice storms, structural fires, winter storms, and floods.
The mitigation goals include public education, ways to lessen the impact of power failure, and enhancing the ability of the county to respond.
The educational aspect includes annual training in fire safety education and the dissemination of disaster preparedness information.
Most of the details were not presented, as presenters focused instead on just a broad synopsis.
After the slideshow, public comment was permitted. Harry Branch of Callicoon expressed his concern that terrorists might attack the Norfolk Southern Railroad, which runs through southern and western Sullivan County. He was also worried about chemicals spilling out from trucks driving up and down Route 17.
Another resident expressed concerns about flooding.
Trotta responded with two options. Admitting it was a "grandiose" idea, he suggested that people ask FEMA to move their home or community out of flooded areas. This action is "cheaper than replacing your home," said Trotta.
Another choice that he strongly advocated is dredging. He blamed the Environmental Protection Agency for not allowing helpful dredging to occur nationwide. He said that dredging could remove debris from rivers and streams and prevent major flooding.
The EPA believes that dredging is unsafe and can sometimes lead to the destruction of rivers and streams altogether.
(An example presented: a dammed lake was recently dredged in Livingston Manor, nearly wiping out all of its water and thousands of fish and other life.)

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